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Help in a crisis

 

If there is an immediate danger to life, please dial 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

I am in Gloucestershire

If you or someone you know needs help in a mental health crisis, call our crisis teams.

Call 0800 169 0398.

And choose one of the following options depending on your location:

  • Option 1 for Stroud and Cotswolds
  • Option 2 for Gloucester and Forest
  • Option 3 for Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and North Cotswolds

Please note: telephone calls may be recorded. If you do not want that to happen, please tell the person who answers your call and they will phone you back on a ‘non-recordable’ telephone.

The number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Occasionally, callers may be asked to leave their name and number on an answerphone. In these circumstances, staff will return the call within one hour.

I am in Herefordshire

If you are in Herefordshire and need support, please call us using one of the following numbers:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, please contact the team or service who currently provide your care.
  • Monday to Friday, 5pm – 9am and 24 hours on weekends and bank holidays, please call our Mental Health Matters Helpline on: 0800 015 7271

These contact numbers are for people already in contact with our services. If you are not currently in contact with us, please call 111 or your GP.

Our out of hours, weekend and bank holiday service is provided by Mental Health Matters.

If you need help but are not in crisis, please contact your GP if in opening hours, or 111. If you don’t have a GP use the NHS service search to locate the nearest one to you. If your query is not urgent, you can find our contact details here.

Are you feeling vulnerable? Do you need to talk to somebody now?

samaritans

Call free on 116 123
If you are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide, you can call the Samaritans.

Stay Alive App

A pocket suicide prevention resource for the UK, packed full of useful information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide. The app can be accessed through the Apple Store, Google Play and downloaded as a pdf.

childline

Call free on 0800 11 11
If you are a child or a young person you may want to speak to Childline.

selfharm

Call 0808 816 0606
Or text 07537 410 022
A safe, supportive, non-judgmental and informative service for people who self harm, their friends, families and carers.
Opem every day 5pm – 10pm for phone and text support.

Dysphagia is the term used to describe a problem with eating, drinking and/or swallowing.  It can be associated with pain (odynophagia), coughing, or with a feeling of something getting stuck (globus), but the person may also be completely unaware of there being a problem (silent aspiration). The process of swallowing is very complex and involves coordinating over 50 pairs of muscles and nerves. Instead of arriving in the stomach, dysphagia may result in some food and/or drink entering the airway (aspiration). This can lead to choking or aspiration pneumonia; a chest infection resulting from food/drink entering the lungs.

Eating and drinking are usually enjoyable activities that positively impact on our quality of life. Most of the social events that we plan with our friends and family involve the sharing of food and drink, for example meeting for coffee or going out for dinner. It is therefore clear that eating and drinking occupy dual roles, both as an important part of our social functioning and also being vital in ensuring we get adequate nutrition and hydration. Any problem in the swallowing process can negatively affect a person’s physical health as well as their emotional wellbeing and perception of their quality of life.

Lots of people are aware of the risk of dysphagia amongst people who have had a stroke, have dementia, or who have a learning disability, but fewer people know about the risk of dysphagia in adults of working age who are experiencing mental illness. There can be lots of causes of dysphagia within this group, but the two main reasons are medication side-effects and risky behaviours when they are eating/drinking.

Some medications used to treat mental health issues can make the muscles involved in swallowing weaker or go into spasm. Others with a sedative effect can impair the swallowing reflex and the ability to protect the airway. Some medications can cause a dry mouth, which makes it more difficult to trigger a swallow, and others can cause us to produce too much saliva.

When someone is experiencing mental illness their behaviour can change. This might result in them feeling more agitated and so they might struggle to sit down to eat and drink, but lots of movement (e.g. pacing) can increase the risk of food/drink going ‘down the wrong way’ (towards the lungs instead of into the stomach). Some people can find it a real struggle to get out of bed, but eating or drinking when lying down can make it much more difficult to swallow safely. Other people may feel the need to rush their meals, resulting in them overfilling their mouth or bolting their food without chewing it enough, increasing the risk of choking.

Things to look out for include:

  • Regular coughing or choking when eating/drinking
  • Regularly having difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Voice regularly sound wet or gurgly after eating/drinking
  • Repeated chest infections

If you or someone close to you is noticing these things then have a chat with your GP or health/social care professional so that you can talk about it in more detail and decide together what should happen next.

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