Welcome to the Dorset Mental Health Forum

The Dorset Mental Health Forum is a local peer led charity. We exist to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness by promoting wellbeing and recovery. We were established in 1992 and employ people with lived experience of mental health problems whenever possible. Our main office premises are situated in Durngate Street in the market town of Dorchester.

We believe that people with lived experience of mental health problems have a wealth of specialist knowledge and valuable expertise. We believe in the effectiveness of partnership working in the design and provision of mental health services. Everyone has an equal right to enjoy all of the opportunities that life can provide and that is why we promote the principle that hope, mental health and wellbeing are essential to all.

The current Coronavirus situation.

The news this week has been dominated by the escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that these are unsettling times which will be very difficult for people. We understand that this situation will be particular challenging for people who are already struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

The Health and Safety of our staff and people that we work with is our priority and in light of the Governments advice, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend all of the groups and courses that we run in the community. This includes all Forum sports and social sessions and all Recovery Education Centre courses.

Our advocacy service is still open and the staff are working from home but you are welcome to get in touch in the usual way. If you are phoning please leave a message on our answerphone, your message will be then picked up remotely by a member of our team and you will receive a call back - if you could leave us details of your availability for a return call that would be helpful.

We are working very hard to rapidly develop virtual options that will enable people to connect and allow us to offer support for people who are struggling with the impact of isolation. We will publish information about this on our website and social media platforms in the following days but if you'd like to offer any feedback around what you would find helpful, please contact the Forum office.

It is definitely an appropriate time to mention some useful online Wellbeing resources, we really like the Headspace Mindfulness App - Click here to go to the Headspace website

Another recommended website is Orcha, an especially useful one that ranks and reviews health and wellbeing apps - Click here to go to the Orcha website

Its important to note that COVID-19 is likely to be a mild illness for the majority of people and the measures that are in place are there to protect the most vulnerable people in our society. Latest information leads us to understand that people over 65 and those who have underlying health conditions are at higher risk and therefore most vulnerable.

We understand there is a lot of information and news out there, not all of it is helpful or reliable. Below are the links to the latest government and NHS advice -

Click here to read the official Government response.

Click here to read the official NHS Coronavirus guidelines.

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NHS responders

NHS Volunteering

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. To do this they need an 'army' of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. NHS doctors, nurses, those working in local authorities and other professionals, will be able to refer people in to NHS Volunteer Responders and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer.

For more details and how to apply please click here to access the dedicated website

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A new Forum website on the way

Forum Logo

We have been wanting to redesign and modernise the Forum website for some time now, to give it a fresher more intuitive feel. As you can see from the image on the right, this process also includes a rebrand along with a fresh new Forum logo!

There is a lot of information on the current site and it's important to us that we work with you to ensure that we do not lose the content that brings you here in the first place. For that reason, as we are developing our new site, we would really welcome your feedback on our current website - what you like or dislike, what is helpful, what is not, what you would like to see on the new website and so on (content or design).

Your feedback would be very much appreciated..... please contact us here. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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Head of Operations and Quality.

The Forum are delighted to be recruiting for a Head of Operations and Quality, a role within our senior leadership team.

For more details on the role and how to apply please click here to access our vacancies page.

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‘Your Mind, Your Say’ – seeking views on mental health services for children and young people.


NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (together with health, care and voluntary sector partners across Dorset) are launching a project called ‘Your Mind Your Say’ to seek views on mental health services for children and young people.

There have been various pieces of view seeking work done by other organisations over the last few years and the CCG wants to add to this with a focus on service provision and then bring all the information together into a comprehensive report about what people think.

They are launching a survey which will run throughout February 2020. This is available in on-line, paper and easy read versions. We would like to ask your help with sharing the link to the webpage so that people can access these - https://www.dorsetccg.nhs.uk/yourmind/ or click here to go straight to the external website.

The survey is for anyone who has a view on children and young people’s mental health services including children, young people and their families/carers. Young people under 16 will need parental consent to complete it.

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Creative Art Sessions in Weymouth


The Dorset History Centre and Dorset Council are working with The Arts Development Company to run some free creative art sessions in Weymouth this month for young men looking to improve their mental health. The sessions will be held on Saturday mornings from 29th February through to 4th April at Weymouth Library and offer an opportunity to discuss, share and create with experienced artists in a small group

For more details please visit -


or call The Arts Development Company on 01305 228528

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The Recovery Education Centre Prospectus and Spring 2020 Timetable

REC ProspectusEveryone has a right to wellbeing, to feeling positive about today and feeling hopeful for tomorrow. At times life can feel uncontrollable, and empty of opportunity, and most of us experience this at some point. At the Recovery Education Centre (REC), you will find courses that help to empower you to find hope, to see and embrace opportunity through building skills and gain control by putting these skills into practice in your life.

Please download the REC Prospectus .

REC Spring 2020 Calendar .

REC additional course info .

Contact the Recovery Education Centre

By Post:
Recovery Education Centre
Hahnemann House
Hahnemann Road

Tel: 01202 584478
Mobile: 07787 836708
Email the REC

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The launch of Access Mental Health in Dorset

Access Mental Health

On October 10th this year, coinciding with World Mental Health Day, Dorset HealthCare announced a new initiative which is a fresh approach to supporting people who are struggling to cope, heading towards a breakdown or feeling suicidal.

Based on feedback from local people, Access Mental Health allows people to define their own crisis and seek help without waiting for a referral from their GP meaning that Dorset is now one of the few areas in the country where you can access round-the-clock help and advice over the phone and face-to-face support in the evenings.

Access Mental Health offers a range of services including -

  • Connection – a 24/7 telephone helpline (0300 1235440), which can provide direct help or signpost you to a range of other services.
  • The Retreat – a drop-in support service in Bournemouth and Dorchester, open 4.30pm-midnight every day. Run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum, it provides a safe space where you can talk through your problems with mental health workers or peer specialists.
  • Community Front Rooms – drop-in support services in Bridport and Shaftesbury (with a further one in Wareham coming soon), open 3.15-10.45pm, Thursday-Sunday. They are run by local charities The Burrough Harmony Centre (Bridport) and Hope (Shaftesbury), contracted by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, and are also staffed by mental health professionals and peer support workers.
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    Timpson's Mental Health at Work book

    In 2018 four Timpson staff members independently asked Sir John Timpson to write a book about mental health. Most people with stress and depression find it difficult to admit they have a problem. Many are reluctant to talk to a doctor and almost all find it hard to start a critical conversation with their boss.

    In this short film some colleagues from the Timpson Family talk about mental health and how it affects them.

    Sir John's book is fantastic and can be purchased in Timpson shops nationwide (including those in Weymouth and Dorchester !)

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    Suicide Prevention Day

    Tuesday 10th September 2019 was World Suicide Prevention Day and aimed to raise awareness and educate people on the effects mental illness can have on people worldwide.

    More than 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year - an average of 18 a day.

    Thankfully the issue is now being spoken about, alongside other areas of mental health it is very much in focus. Connecting with others and letting people know that it's ok to talk is the message for this year's campaign.

    If you are thinking about suicide or know someone who is but you don't know who to speak to please call us here at the Forum and we will be able to put you in touch with someone who can help, there are people who care and are ready to help right now.

    The Samaritans do fantastic work here in the UK and around the world and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering a safe place for you to talk through any problems you may be having. Their telephone service is free and available on 116 123 .

    There are also other services and organisations that will be able to help - we have added some useful links below -

    • Grassroots are a charity who work solely around suicide prevention in the UK and their website is full of useful resources. Please click here for more information.
    • HOPELineUK is a national confidential support service for any young people (under 35) at risk of suicide, or anyone worried about a young person at risk of suicide. The helpline is open 10am-10pm Monday-Friday, Weekends 2pm-10pm, and Bank Holidays 2pm-5pm.Tel: 0800 068 41 41 Calls are free from all providers and do not appear on bills.
    • CALM Helpline -The Campaign Against Living Miserably offers confidential, anonymous and free support, information and signposting to men anywhere in the UK through their helpline. Monday-Friday from 1pm-11pm every day, calls free from landlines and most mobiles.Tel: 0800 58 58 58
    • The Retreat crisis service , a partnership project designed and delivered by Dorset Healthcare and The Dorset Mental Health Forum (details below)

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    The Retreat

    The Retreat

    The Retreat is a safe and welcoming environment for anyone over 18 years of age, based in Dorset and who have self-identified their crisis and want to access support. It is an alternative to the traditional approach to crisis management as being solely assessed and defined by clinicians.

    The Retreat will not offer medication or formal therapy but will instead support and promote self-management with a strong focus on on valuing lived experience and peer support.

    The service is being delivered in partnership between Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset Mental Health Forum and is staffed by both peer specialist and mental health professionals.

    The Retreat is open every day of the year between 4:30pm to midnight and is based at two sites - Hahnemann House, Hahnemann Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5JW and at 30 Maiden Castle Road, Dorchester, DT1 2ER

    For more details please click here to access the dedicated Retreat website.

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    Suicide Prevention Plan

    Suicide Prevention is high on the agenda and a key part of the Mental Health Five Year Forward View.

    Suicide has a profound effect on families, friends and local communities and across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole an average of 70 people die by suicide and so Dorset CCG and partners are pleased to introduce the Suicide Prevention Plan.

    The Suicide Prevention Plan is a high level plan with key themes taken from the National Suicide Strategy. Each organisation signed up to this plan will develop their own Suicide Prevention Plan targeting their areas of influence. Each organisation will then report progress through the Crisis Care Concordat working Group. It will be reported up through the CCG’s Integrated Community Primary Care Service (ICPCS) Board and to the Health and Wellbeing Boards. Please note the plan seen here is a working draft that will be finalised by 30 April 2018.

    Work on this plan will support the national intention to reduce the number of suicides and importantly will reduce the number of deaths by suicide in Dorset. Across Dorset there is strong commitment to delivering this plan and delivering it in partnership. Once published and finalised the partnerships will be strengthened and formalised to ensure that the reach of the plan is as wide as possible.

    Please click the link below to view or to download the local Dorset action plan produced by Dorset CCG

    Suicide Prevention Plan.


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    We are recruiting new Trustees

    This is an exciting time at the Forum and we are keen to strengthen the Forum Board and our governance practices by recruiting new Trustees who will broaden and enhance our existing skills and perspectives to drive the charity forward. We are looking to recruit a small team of up to 4 new Trustees who will integrate within our existing team to build a Board that will be diverse, dynamic and proficient.

    Please click here for more information and to apply for a role.

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    Dorset Mental Health Forum Information Leaflet

    Forum Information LeafletIf you or anyone you know has an interest in helping to shape services you can get involved by joining the Forum. Download the Forum Information Leaflet to find out more about what we do and how you can be a part of it.

    It explains who we are and the many pieces of work and projects that we undertake, including:

    • 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

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