PEOPLE with mental health problems in Hampshire could soon get extra support if a new initiative gets the green light.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is in talks of hiring a mental health practitioner to take emergency calls, similar to the already successful 'labour line'.

It means callers will go through to an experienced specially-trained mental health nurse based in the ambulance service control centre.

A SCAS spokesperson said it will offer dedicated and focused support for people that require additional help for complex issues.

“Mental health patients will benefit from being supported by specially-trained mental health nurses on the phone who can ensure that they receive the right care, in the right place and at the right time,” the spokesperson said.

The labour line, which is run by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, started as a six month pilot scheme last year and was introduced formally this spring.

The spokesman added: “The labour line has seen great success in helping pregnant callers with questions and concerns they may have and also guiding and support those women in labour on a 24 hour basis, seven days a week. We are looking forward to replicating this successful phone line model for mental health patients.”

Kerry Blake, of Winchester Samaritans, backed the plans. She said the more services available to help vulnerable people the better.

“I don't think there is enough support out there for some people,” she said.

“We do get a lot of calls of people with mental health issues so to have somebody to fall back on, that is there to be a bit more understanding and sensitive to their needs, is just brilliant, and we need to do more of that.

“When vulnerable people feel valued, they feel cared for. If it makes a little bit of difference it's worthwhile.”

SCAS said it is unable to go into further detail about the scheme, and when it will be implemented.