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Open Mental Health secures renewed contract to provide mental health services in Somerset 

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Somerset, UK – In a significant development for mental health services in Somerset, Open Mental Health (OMH) has proudly announced the renewal of its contract to continue its trailblazing, inclusive approach to mental health care.  

As an alliance of local voluntary organisations, the NHS, social care, Somerset Council, and individuals with lived experience of mental health challenges, OMH works together to provide and improve Somerset’s mental health care. As the lead accountable body, charity Rethink Mental Illness secured the contract, which it holds on behalf of the OMH alliance. 

Since 2020, OMH, known for its collaborative and user-led services, has been reshaping the provision of mental health services in Somerset. Beccy Wardle, Associate Director for ICB Partnerships at Rethink Mental Illness, said: 

“The contract renewal is great news. OMH can continue providing vital mental health support to the people of Somerset, including open access to mental health nurses, wellbeing and peer support workers, eating disorder specialists, help for carers, and specialist support around benefits, money and debt.” 

In 2023 alone, OMH supported over 37,000 individuals through meaningful interventions and its confidential telephone support service, Mindline Somerset, answered more than 35,000 calls from those seeking support with their mental health.    

The work of OMH’s Expert by Experience Leaders has been vital in shaping the alliance, as shown by the inspiring story of Jo Poole, a Somerset resident with lived experience of mental health care. As an Expert by Experience Leader, Jo’s first-hand knowledge empowers her to influence and contribute to OMH’s evolution. She said: 

“Open Mental Health looked at the people using the services and said, let’s do the really courageous thing and listen to them.” 

Expert by Experience Leaders represent the voice of lived experience in OMH and work as equal partners to guide and shape a more empathic, responsive service. This groundbreaking model means that the voice of lived experience is central to OMH’s decision-making.  

The renewal of OMH’s contract not only ensures that people in Somerset continue to get support with their mental health, but it also means work done to improve the system can carry on, thanks to the insights of people who have lived experience, people like Jo. Her journey from patient to advocate and leader within OMH illustrates how effective inclusive care can be and the importance of mental health services listening to those they aim to serve. You can read more about Jo in her story on the Open Mental Health website here.   

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has been central in investing in OMH. Jane Yeandle, Service Group Director, Mental Health & Learning Disabilities for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“We are delighted that the MH Community Transformation contract has been awarded to Open Mental Health. Open Mental Health has matured significantly since its inception in 2020, and it has been wonderful to see integrated working across the NHS and the voluntary sector, as well as the introduction of new voluntary and community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) partners. 

“This award affords us the opportunity to continue to work in partnership as Open Mental Health.  We are keen to strengthen our approaches to locality leadership, integrated groups, courses and activities, as well as visibility of key targets.  Somerset’s Open Mental Health offer continues to be considered a national “exemplar”, and it is lovely to see all the hard work of partners, front-line staff and experts by experience recognised.” 

Juliet Lyon CBE, Open Mental Health’s Independent Chair, added:  

“This partnership between Somerset Foundation Trust and the Open Mental Health Alliance really opens the door for people in Somerset to get mental health support where and when they need it most.” 

If you need support with your mental health, please contact Open Mental Health. The confidential phone line is open anytime, day or night. Call locally on 01823 276 892 or freephone 0800 138 1692. You can also visit  

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