Mental health services are open during Christmas and new year

21st December 2021

Dorset’s Access Mental Health services will be open to provide support during Christmas and new year for people who are struggling to cope, anxious or feel they are heading towards a crisis.

Led by Dorset HealthCare, the service offers round-the-clock help and advice to those in need both over the phone and virtually during the festive period.

Services include:

  • Connection – a 24/7 telephone helpline (0800 652 0190), which can provide direct help or signpost to a range of other services. It’s available for all ages and, if urgent clinical help is required, staff can arrange an assessment within four hours
  • Community Front Rooms – a drop-in support service for over-18s in Bridport, Shaftesbury, Wareham and Weymouth, 3.15-10.45pm, Thursday-Sunday. Virtual support is also available. They are run by local charities – The Burrough Harmony Centre (Bridport), Hope (Shaftesbury) and Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (Wareham and Weymouth) – and are all staffed by mental health and peer support workers
  • The Retreat – a drop-in service running in Bournemouth from 4.30-11.30pm every day for face-to-face support. Virtual support is also available. Face-to-face drop-ins will not be possible on 17, 18 and 28 December but virtual support will be available. The Retreat in Dorchester will be providing virtual support over the holiday period, Monday to Wednesday but is not open for face-to-face support. Both Retreats are run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum and provide a way for over-18s to talk through problems with a mental health worker or peer specialist.

An appointment is not needed to visit The Retreat in Bournemouth and Community Front Rooms. Visit to access a virtual drop-in.

Tracey Marshall, Dorset HealthCare’s Crisis and Acute Community Services Manager, said: 

“This year has continued to be a challenging time for people’s mental health, with COVID-19 significantly affecting how we feel and the things we would normally do day-to-day.

“Christmas can also be a difficult or emotional time for some, and even more overwhelming than usual in the current circumstances.

“Whatever your situation, our Access Mental Health services are here help and will be running over the Christmas and new year period, so you can get the support you need, at the exact time you need it. You can talk to mental health staff and peer specialists, people with their own experience of such issues, and find the solutions which can help.”

For further information, visit

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