Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new digital partnership which will see local residents gaining access to a peer-to-peer support community, with the aim of creating a safe online space in which users can anonymously support each other with moderation from licensed and registered mental health practitioners.
Dr Jeremy Sandbrook, Consultant Psychiatrist and medical lead for Cornwall’s Community Mental Health Transformation programme, said: “It’s part of a wider strategy to transform how mental health services are delivered across the county in the coming years. This latest offer is simply an extra resource on top of the other forms of help and support that are provided by the NHS and our excellent voluntary and community sector.”
The Community Mental Health Transformation Programme is a five-year effort to “transform the way mental health services are delivered in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly”, aiming to improve the lives of people with moderate to severe mental illness and complex needs. It will see joined-up working between health and social care, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations, in addition to collaboration with people who have lived experience of mental ill health.
The new partnership between the trust and the online service Togetherall means that residents aged 16 or over can sign up anonymously using their postcode, email address and date of birth, and have access to 24/7 support 365 days a year.
In addition, users gain access to a range of resources and can work through tailored self-help courses covering topics such as anxiety, sleep, depression and more.
Dr Sandbrook noted how use of digital tools and remote care “rapidly expanded” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and added: “It’s not something that will replace face-to-face support and nor should it, but digital solutions do play an important role in helping to increase access and choice. Also, we know how important it is to address the isolation some people find themselves in. The more people feel connected with others who can understand and empathise with what they are going through, the likelihood of them deteriorating and needing more complex, specialist interventions is reduced. The power of people helping each other by sharing their thoughts, feelings, stories, and encouragement should never be underestimated.”