Mental Health Café Reduces Hospital Admissions
The Safe Haven Café in Aldershot opened in 2014, with £70,000 from NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham clinical commissioning group for the three-month trial, the cafe has since won a string of awards and has secured annual funding.
In the first six months after its launch, psychiatric admissions from the cafe’s catchment area fell by 33%. The impact of the cafe, which is open every weeknight from 6pm until 11pm, and every weekend and bank holiday from 12:30pm to 11pm, on service users is clear. While not all admissions come through A&E, there were 63 confirmed reports of people using the Safe Haven cafe as an alternative to A&E in its initial three-month trial, resulting in savings.
Those with mental health problems typically only have A&E to turn to if they are reaching a crisis point in the evening. Some users go every day, while others come only when they feel that they are near crisis point. If you’re at home and tension is building, by seven o’clock, it’s too late to go to the doctors and the night just draws out. Now, people in Aldershot have a place to go.
Iain Watkins, 46, relies on the cafe. Ten years ago, he ended up in a coma after a messy divorce and redundancy led him to attempt to take his own life. Battling mental health problems since then has not been helped by the loneliness he feels. “The first time I came to the cafe, I stood outside in the rain smoking for 20 minutes plucking up the courage to go in,” he says. “Now I come here most nights. I still self-harm, but less so and I haven’t had to go to A&E since coming here”.
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