Mental health support available in the new year

20th December 2023

Dorset’s Access Mental Health services will be open as usual during the festive period to provide support for anyone struggling to cope, feeling low, anxious or heading towards a crisis.

Led by Dorset HealthCare, the services offer round-the-clock help and advice to those in need, in person, over the phone and online over Christmas and into the new year.

This time of year can be a particularly tough time for many of us. Worried about your mental health or someone you know?

The county’s Connection helpline is open 24/7 for support, advice and signposting for anyone in Dorset. Direct dial 0800 652 0190 or call NHS 111 and select the mental health option.  

Connection has this year received an average of 4,500-5,000 calls per month. One caller to the service said:

“I really felt listened to and supported at a time when I was struggling to cope. It means so much to know I am not alone and was assured by the person I spoke to that I could call back any time and that I wasn't being a nuisance.”

Face-to-face and online services available include:

  • The Retreat – drop-in service run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum which provides a way for over-18s to talk through problems with a mental health worker or peer specialist face-to-face. The Bournemouth Retreat is open from 4.30-11.30pm every day and Dorchester’s Retreat is open from 4.30-11.30pm, Sunday to Wednesday
  • Community Front Rooms – face-to-face drop-in support service for over-18s in Bridport, Shaftesbury and Wareham (2.15-9.45pm, Thursday to Sunday) and Weymouth (2.15-9.45pm, Monday to 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.

Laura Ekelund, Dorset HealthCare’s Crisis and Acute Community Services manager, said:

“We know this time of year can be particularly hard for many, and our Access Mental Health Services are here to help.

“Our Connection mental health crisis phone line is available 24/7. Please do call us if you are worried about your own, or someone close to you, mental health – our experienced mental health staff are here to listen and support you to find a way forward, whatever the circumstances.”

In person support is available in the evenings, at our Retreats and the Community Front Rooms. All the details can be found here.

Dorset HealthCare offers a wide range of other mental health support for all ages. Visit

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