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Retreat offers community support for mental health problems

An innovative service that offers a safe, non-clinical environment for those experiencing mental health problems and distress has been piloted in the centre of Bridgend.

Since opening just before Christmas, the out-of-hours service has received more than 100 referrals from across the area. It provides a less formal, early intervention and a homely non-clinical environment which is welcoming, calm and relaxed for those who are experiencing social distress.

The service is provided by Mental Health Matters Wales and is delivered as part of a collaboration with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Bridgend County Borough Council, South Wales Police and other third sector service providers.

The retreat is a service for adults who are experiencing problems such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation, domestic, family, relationship issues, carer’s responsibilities, stresses and other issues which may also be affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

Access to the retreat is by appointment only through a referral process via professional health, social services or social care staff from statutory services.

The retreat is open four days each week between the hours of 5pm and 11pm. For those who find it difficult to attend due to their distress, location or financial issues, a taxi service is provided free of charge. This helps to ensure safety and remove a possible barrier to attendance.

Robert Goodwin, Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB’s Service Group Manager for Mental Health in Bridgend, said: “This is a wonderful scheme which delivers what our local communities have been asking for. The support provided by the retreat is unique in the area, providing help to people at times when traditional health and social care support is not as easily available.

“The staff offer non-clinical support using community-based and socially-inclusive approaches to dealing with people’s anxieties. It is great that the service has been there for people during the pandemic.”

Michaela Moore from Mental Health Matters said: “We support individuals to make connections with other mental health and community groups. This can help people with their recovery.

“We are delighted to be involved in this positive service supporting those in need. Particularly those suffering with social distress and isolation in these difficult times. We provide one-to-one support and meaningful activities in a friendly person-centred way.”

Cllr Nicole Burnett, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, said: “I’m pleased to hear this pilot service has been available to those who have needed its help. Feedback from those using the retreat or having telephone contact has been positive.

“The council is very happy to support this service, which shows that by working together, organisations can offer the best help and advice to people experiencing mental health problems.”

The retreat is the first pilot of its kind within the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area, providing an integrated model of care and is now being proposed to continue as a fundamental part of an extended network of mental health services in Bridgend County Borough.