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Mental health


If you're feeling low or anxious you are not alone. 1 in 4 people will have mental health problems at some point in their lives.

If you've been feeling low or depressed for more than a few weeks or your anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your GP.

Your GP will talk to you about your symptoms, how long you have been having them and how they are affecting your life. It can be helpful to write down a list of things you would like to ask your GP before you have your appointment.

For more common problems such as depression and anxiety, your GP can give you a diagnosis. For less common problems you will be referred to a mental health specialist in your local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

NHS Choices has information about specific mental health problems.

Rethink have a large range of fact sheets including what to expect when you talk to your GP, the Mental Capacity Act, treatments and recovery.

The Steps 2 Wellbeing service is a free, confidential, NHS service for people aged 18 and over. They provide a service across the county of Dorset for people registered at a Dorset GP surgery. They offer a range of treatments and can give support over the telephone, face-to-face, in groups or via the internet.

Mental Health Act Section 117 Funding

Section 117 funding is available to those that have been detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act.

Section 117 funding is joint NHS and Local Authority funding.

117 Funding responsibility remains with the Local Authority where it was granted.

Contact us for further information

Useful support

  • Mental Health helplines
  • Connection – a 24/7 helpline open to all ages. Dorset residents or people visiting Dorset can call direct on 0300 123 5440 at local call rate or access via NHS 111 for free
  • The Retreat – open to anyone aged 18 or above, providing a safe space to seek face-to-face help and support. It is open every day from 4.30pm-midnight at locations in Bournemouth and Dorchester. (CURRENTLY CLOSED due to Covid-19).
  • Community Front Rooms – open to anyone aged 18 or above, providing a welcoming, safe space where you can discuss problems and work towards possible solutions. It is open from 3.15-10.45 pm, Thursday-Sunday, at locations in Bridport, Shaftesbury and Wareham. 
  • Access mental health help

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering virtual meetings using Attend Anywhere.

    This means you can have a virtual face-to-face meeting with one of our team members online. This can be accessed through the links below or, if you prefer a phone call, contact the free 24/7 Connection phone line on 0300 123 5440  where staff will refer you to your local community front room.





    To download the Access Mental Health poster, click here. If you are feeling like you can't cope, or if you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, there are a range of other local services and charities that can also provide support. Find out more.

    • 29-29a Durngate Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1JP
    • 01305 257172

Services offered

  • Dorset Wellbeing and Recovery Partnership (WaRP)
  • Dorset Recovery Education Centre (REC)
  • The Retreat
  • Forum Employment Service/Dorset Work Matters (WaRP)
  • Dorset Mental Health Advocacy
  • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
  • Sports, Leisure and Social Programme

Urgent help

If you're feeling very distressed, despairing or suicidal and need immediate help, please contact your GP and ask them for an emergency appointment, contact Samaritans on 116 123 or go to the Accident and Emergency department at your nearest hospital.

A death by suicide can have a big impact on family members and the wider community. We are working together to support vulnerable people, as well as those in crisis, and give them the help they need. If you or someone you know is feeling like they can't cope there are organisations you can turn to for support.

More information is available on the Public Health Dorset website

Professional help

If you have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, the two most common treatments are medication and talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

You might be offered both talking therapy and medication as part of your treatment. You don't have to choose between them and you can have both treatments together if you want to.


Medication does not cure mental health problems, but it can help to reduce some of the symptoms. There are different drugs depending on your diagnosis.

Mind has information about different medication, what you need to know before taking it and information about possible side effects.

Talking therapy

Talking therapy allows you to talk to a trained professional about how you are feeling and your experiences. They can help you to understand your feelings and behaviour.

Mind has information about talking therapies, how they work and what you can expect.

Self help

There are many ways you can help yourself feel better. Self-help therapy can be a useful first step if you are unsure whether or not to seek further help.

Mind has some good tips for looking after yourself.

The Steps 2 Wellbeing service is a free, confidential, NHS service for people aged 18 and over. They provide a service across the county of Dorset for people registered at a Dorset GP surgery. They offer a range of treatments and can give support over the telephone, face-to-face, in groups or via the internet.


The Recovery Education Centre offers a wide range of free recovery-focused educational courses. These can support you to recognise your potential through self-management, to deal with the mental and physical health challenges you experience and to achieve the things you want to in life. The courses are mainly based in the community, so you should not have to travel too far to attend.

Living Life to the Full is a free online course which teaches techniques to help you manage stress and anxiety on a day to day basis.

Staying healthy

Staying healthy is important for everyone, but making sure you stay fit and active and eat well can help to improve your mental wellbeing as well as helping you to stay physically healthy.

Things to do

Doing an activity you enjoy and talking to others can give you a boost. We have a list of activities in our service provider directory, including sports, arts and crafts, music and more.

Volunteering is a good way to help yourself while helping others.

Stay active outdoors

Being outdoors can increase your mental and physical wellbeing. This is sometimes called green therapy.

You can try a range of voluntary and paid occupational activities which use the outdoor environment as a form of therapy. Green therapy includes a large range of activities such as allotment schemes, plant nurseries, riding centres and care farms.

Find an activity

Health walks are regular short guided walks that take place every week throughout Dorset. These free walks offer a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and meet new people as well as keeping you fit and healthy.

Free exercise plans to try at home

You can access free easy ten minute work outs from Public Health England or try other exercise videos at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.

Books on prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription can help you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The books are available to borrow from your local library.

Other support

Going to a support group or attending an activity group with other people who are experiencing mental health problems can be a good way to get support and meet new people.

We have a directory of support groups for people with mental health problems.

Find a support group

Dorset Mental Health Forum run various social activities, peer support and sports groups across Dorset.

If you need help to express your views and wishes, advocacy may help you.

Help for carers

There is no right or wrong way to support someone with a mental health problem.

Carer Support Dorset - provide information, advice and guidance in your caring role. You might not think yourself as a carer and think what you do is just part of being a parent, spouse, friend or sibling. As a result, you might be missing out on the support that is available. Contact Carer Support Dorset for more information.

Mind has useful information if the person you care for has not been diagnosed and you would like to support them to get help.

It can help to understand the diagnosis of the person you care for as it can help you to understand how it affects them. Mind has information about specific mental health problems and how you can give support.

Carers support groups may help if you want to get information and talk to others who have been through similar experiences.

Find a carers support group

As a carer, it is important to look after your own health. We have information and support for carers.

Work and money

Mind has advice about how to stay mentally healthy at work.

If you need support to find employment, look at our service provider directory.

If you are worried about money management or debt, Mind has information and advice.

We have information about welfare benefits.

Further Information

Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.

If you already have a mental health problem, you can access comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.