Funding, safe havens and progress on crisis cafe for Thanet revealed at mental health summit

The mental health summit

Increased budgets and mental health services for Thanet and east Kent were announced at a summit held in Margate yesterday (September 19).

During the mental health conference, organised by Kent County Council public health and held at Margate Winter Gardens, Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group lead Dr Jihad Malasi officially announced plans for a 365 day a year, 24/7 Safe Haven in Thanet – revealed by The Isle of Thanet News last month – and said discussions were taking place with mental health charity Mind over implementing a crisis café.

He also announced that there will be a high intensity service for personality disorder and chaotic clients and further primary provision (counselling) and  secondary provision (at mental health site The Beacon) which will be delivered later this year and very early in 2020.

A £3.6 million increase in the mental health budget for Kent from NHS England has been confirmed and the summit was told that Margate now has an additional worker for mild to moderate mental health issues.

The summit heard there will be more emphasis on physical health and living well, as mental health clients have a reduced life expectancy. The importance of peer support services was also discussed.

A liaison psychiatry service at QEQM Hospital in Margate is planned and additional money has been made available for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Lauretta Kavanagh, Mental Health Programme Director at the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic contribution over three years to help develop services for people at a time when they really need urgent care.

“The funding will help to enhance existing mental health services but also provide new services in identified areas of need. It’s an exciting development and working with Mental Health Matters (MHM) and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), we are keen to get these projects off the ground as soon as we can.”

Safe Haven

Mental Health Matters, which has over 35 years’ experience in delivering support to those with complex mental health support needs, will be operating the safe haven service.

Helen Mackay, Chief Executive for MHM, said: “This funding will help mental health services to work together to provide the right service in the right place. Admission to an inpatient unit is often not appropriate but a place where someone can de-escalate with the right support and expertise can be much more beneficial.

“The service will run between 6pm and 11pm every single day of the year. Each safe haven will provide a non-referral based, open access alternative provision for those aged 16+ who are at risk of a mental health crisis. They can also act as a rapid diversion from hospital and A&E, where police, ambulance and paramedics can bring an individual in crisis (not requiring hospital) to be supported by skilled and experienced staff.”

The funding will also help secure the future of liaison mental health services based in acute hospitals provided by Kent and Medway Partnership Trust. This means no acute hospital is without adult (18 years and above) mental health liaison services in emergency departments and inpatient wards.

Lauretta added: “In line with the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View and NHS Long Term Plan, it’s important to ensure that the right mental health support is available for everyone. One of our top priorities for 19/20 is to develop an urgent and emergency mental health care pathway for people of all ages across the county. This is additional funding is a fantastic step forward but there is still work to do.”

The other element of funding will contribute to developing improved access to crisis assessment and home treatment for people who would otherwise need psychiatric hospital admission. This will be developed as part of an expansion of the Crisis Home Treatment Teams (CRHTT) operated by KMPT.

Summit in Thanet

The summit was attended by more than 200 professionals, service users, volunteers, and voluntary groups and hadi many stalls and exhibitions, including from  SpeakUpCIC  and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS).

The event was arranged on the heels of a public meeting held by Ramsgate’s Cllr Karen Constantine on July 19 where more than 120 Thanet residents called on the NHS to provide increased services for those suffering with their mental health after a number of tragedies due to Thanet people being unable to access services.

Ramsgate deputy mayor Jane Hetherington (pictured), who is a mental health specialist, said: “ “I am delighted to be sharing some good news about Thanet mental health services.

“It was well attended, energised, and Thanet based. The attendees were required to think about Thanet  issues and Thanet solutions and service users, professionals, councillors and commissioners from the statutory and voluntary sector were in attendance. We worked hard to analyse current service provision and what is needed for the future.”

Cllr Karen Constantine

Cllr Constantine said: “I really welcome these new and important services that will provide a much needed lifeline for many in Thanet, and it’s absolutely vital that we get a 24/7 crisis cafe in Ramsgate. We cannot afford to be complacent and we need to continue to keep up the pressure, that’s why we have two more meetings planned.

“In addition I have suggested to the NHS that we hold a meeting to discuss  how we can work together to recruit and retain more much needed NHS staff, as we struggle to get staff in Thanet. This request has been warmly received and I hope we can work together to make real progress.”


On September 27 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm a meeting will be held at the Comfort Inn Ramsgate to discuss children and adolescents mental health. Many young people need earlier help than they are currently getting. Both young people and adults are welcome.

On November 7, from 6.30pm – 8.30pm a meeting will be held at the Comfort Inn Ramsgate on drug and alcohol dependency. Pete Dunger of the Forward Trust Thanet hub will be there to answer questions .

All are welcome to the meetings.

Get help

Anyone suffering with suicidal thoughts should contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

Alternatively the Release the Pressure campaign urges people to seek help by calling Freephone 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The campaign website can be found at

A list of community mental health services can also be found on the Live Well website at

SpeakUp CIC support group can be found online here and on facebook here

Thanet CCG