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Suffolk Mind boss welcomes plans to open crisis café in the county

PUBLISHED: 15:45 27 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:45 27 September 2017

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Opening a mental health support café in Suffolk will enable people in urgent need to get instant help and in turn reduce pressure on over-stretched emergency services, a charity bosses has said.

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, has welcomed plans to launch a so-called crisis café in the county; however he thinks this title does not accurately represent the role of such a service.

Although details have not emerged about what the proposed centre would look like in Suffolk, similar facilities in other parts of the country tend to run during evenings, weekends and bank holidays for distressed people to get support and advice from trained professionals, or to simply find solace in the company of others.

Mr Neal said: “We think a safe place or facility such as a ‘crisis café’ would be a good thing for Ipswich – in fact it would be good for other locations as well. Such a place can benefit those having difficulties with their mental health, as it becomes a sanctuary where it’s okay to talk about how you’re feeling.

“It also removes the stigma that is often associated with mental health if the location is a socially acceptable café, or something similar.

“Calling it a ‘crisis café’ isn’t necessarily accurate because such a place can reduce the isolation often felt by vulnerable people who may not be in crisis, as such, but want to go to a place where they feel accepted, safe and heard.

“In that way, it is an excellent preventative measure to support people in order for them not to get to a crisis point. This could be because people would be getting their emotional needs met, such as emotional connection, security, respect, community and attention, simply by attending the café.

“For those who are in a crisis situation, it would be vital in helping them have somewhere to go to be listened to and supported. This can decrease the use of local emergency services and provide instant support to those who need it.”

Exploring the options of developing a crisis café in Suffolk is listed as one of the key actions in the Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

The STP is a five-year blueprint for how health and social care services in that area will change and adapt in order to meet the current financial and cultural challenges facing the NHS.

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