SUPPORT for mental health has been stepped up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) has increased and widened its mental health offer for local people in response to the outbreak.

Measures the ICS has implemented include: a speed dial feature on hospital bedside phones allowing people to quickly call Samaritans at the touch of a button, developing a ‘Suspected Suicide? WHAT Support Can I Provide’ card to police and key workers so they can quickly and easily signpost people to support if needed when they are called out, providing funding to extend the remit of the Big White Wall mental heath service to the whole of Lancashire and South Cumbria, creating an easily accessible and shareable online list of all mental health support in the area, and an accompanying mental health support resources list and developing a suicide prevention campaign of posters, shareable social media content, and adverts encouraging people to “keep talking” through lockdown and social distancing.

“Many of these services were due for roll-out later in 2020, so the fact that we have been able to speed up making them happen to meet the demands of people in Lancashire and South Cumbria now, is brilliant," said Paul Hopley, ICS mental health deputy director.

“Others are new initiatives where colleagues and partners saw gaps in provision and stepped up to provide a new offer for local people.

“Anyone needing support or someone to talk to should not have to suffer alone.”

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, praised the roll-out of extra mental health support.

“The actions we need to take to tackle coronavirus are hugely disruptive to people’s lives and routines," said Mr Fell.

“Much of the news at the minute is worrying and can feel overwhelming for some people.

“It’s imperative that we stay home to protect our NHS and save lives.

“But staying home does not mean being alone.

“It’s great to see the ICS working with agencies across our area to help people who are finding self-isolation especially challenging at this time.

“Help is available, and I would urge anyone who is feeling low to contact one of these agencies for support.”