A round-the-clock service has been launched to improve care for people suffering from a mental health crisis.

The 24-hour helpline aims to provide emergency mental health care with the same urgency as people expect from the NHS in a physical health emergency, from Monday (April 4).

The new single point of access (SPA) phone number - 0300 1234 244 - will provide out-of-hours care meaning people in crisis can get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The initiative launched by West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHT) is a step-up for people with urgent cases of mental health problems in Hounslow , Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham .

In March, the WLMHT also launched a scheme to address the issue of physical illnesses.

A new programme is also being launched this month by children's charity NSPCC to help parents-to-be with mental health issues.

People can use the line if they feel unsafe, at risk or unable to cope without professional advice.

The phones will be manned by trained mental health advisors and clinicians who will work with people to mange their difficulties.

Reducing hospital admissions

Sonya Clinch, service manager for access and urgent care at WLMHT, said: “The new single point of access is great news for our mental health services. It’s easy to use, and provides the right help for people when they need it most.”

In an emergency, the SPA service, which aims to reduce hospital admissions, will respond within four hours, and within 24 hours in urgent cases.

The SPA will also ensure all referrals from GPs and carers are processed and responded to in a timely way, following a robust clinical triage process.

The service hopes to give more people a quick response and the chance to recover at home or close to home instead, with friends and family nearby.

READ MORE: Harrow woman talks about how depression took control of her life.

Dr Beverley McDonald, chair of the North West London mental health and wellbeing transformation board, added: “This is a really positive step towards improving access to mental health services in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow.

“Ensuring that everyone from carers and patients to GPs, ambulance crews and the police have easy access to help and support during a mental health crisis is essential.”

Further support through GPs and in the community is also being developed, so professionals can step in earlier before things get to a crisis point.

The first recovery house for people who need intensive support was opened at Amadeus House in Ealing.