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Road Map for Mental Health and Substance Misuse

The Letter of Hope.

The Letter of Hope was written by people from Devon, who wish to offer help and hope to those who are thinking about suicide.

Click here to download the 'Letter of Hope'.

Croft Hall Patient Road Map For Mental Health, Addictions, Alcohol Abuse and General Substance Misuse.


One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Mental health is fast becoming destigmatised as a number of celebrities and people in public life are revealing their battle with some aspect of mental health. The term ‘Mental Health’ covers a multitude of malaises such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, schizophrenia, and bi-polar. This article is not comprehensive but outlines your options and the services available.

It sounds “clichéd” but if you suspect you have a mental health problem see your GP and also be aware treatment doesn’t necessarily mean medication. In the case of depression there are other options such as: - talking therapies (cognitive behaviour therapy) and exercise. The latter has been found to be very effective as exercise gives a feeling of wellbeing by increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain and can help to put insurmountable problems in perspective. And yes exercise can be prescribed literally to your local leisure centre!

Life is rarely simple and commonly people with mental health problems have addiction problems too which may go unnoticed such as smoking more heavily, drinking a little too much or taking over the counter medication regularly. Your GP will attempt to consider you as a whole person and determine your life style and what is going on for you in your life to get a better picture and to treat the whole problem rather than just one facet of the problem.

You can self-refer to several local organisations or your GP may suggest a referral to see a psychiatrist at the local community mental health team at Waverley House.

Depression and Anxiety Counselling Service; self-referral 01803 696600

Click here to download some tips on handling stress

Samaritans 08457909090

Books Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert ISBN9781841191256 published by Robinson

Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley ISBN9781854874221 published by Robinson

Mental Health Recovery Team: GP referral only
St Lukes Road
01803- 214597 (Just round the corner from the surgery)

Cool Recovery Charity: self-referral
17, Morgan Avenue
Torquay (just five minute walk from Croft Hall)
Tel 01803-299511
Carers’ support Worker Mr Aiden Mc Nulty

Here is a Real Life Case Study of a Patient with a Mental Health Problem.

Donna had been diagnosed with border line personality disorder and social phobia ten years before the perceived crisis. She was stable on a mixture of diazepam and olanzapine. She had been doing ok in her life, except for the unpleasant side effect of one of her medications which caused excess salivation.

So after many years Donna decided to wean herself off with help from her GP.

Then gradually Donna, who was unemployed, stopped contacting and interacting with her friends. Her friends didn’t worry; to them Donna was just being Donna. What happened to Donna was alarming. She didn’t really comprehend where she was and lived in a mass of paper work which she kept reviewing endlessly. Day became night, night became day. She was having strange frightening thoughts which she could not articulate. She was convinced that she had caused the nation’s deficit in claiming her pension which she was fully entitled to. Her Mother came to see her and found her behaviour distressing – she did not know what to do. Then things came to a head when Donna was found hanging by a ligature around her neck. Her mother, who found her, cut her down and she was admitted to A&E and then to a Mental Health unit, where, after two weeks she made a full recovery. Looking back at the events, with insight, Donna learned the shocking truth that when mentally ill she had become a stranger to herself and had no insight to what was going on around her


A professor at Exeter University has proved that a technique known as mindfulness reduces the likelihood of a relapse into depression. Mindfulness is the science of being in the moment and dealing with one thing at a time, it also teaches relaxation techniques. In 2010 the NHS ran a community course in it.

 For further information on mindfulness go to


Alcohol has been described as “The bane of civilisations” and the “Universal balm for the masses”.

 Did you know if that alcohol was discovered today it would be outlawed as a class ‘A’ drug. A sobering thought. The effects of alcohol abuse are insidious, even to the well intentioned person and it is easy to abuse as it creates a temporary euphoria which wears off. In some cultures alcohol consumption is seen as rites of passage into adulthood. Alcohol although causes short lived euphoria it is a depressant. Behind the scenes it throws the liver into chaos as alcohol is a toxin to the body and also highly addictive to those who are susceptible. If you want to talk chemistry it is a hydro carbon molecule not dis similar to most fuels and anti-freeze so it seems ridiculous that we should drink it at all!

Alcohol is the salesman’s dream and the Government’s nightmare, alcohol abuse soaks up billions of pounds in health care to those admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol or those who have chronic health conditions related to alcohol abuse. We are bombarded with images of drink and indeed our popular sitcoms are centred on pubs. Such things legitimise its widespread use and also make drinking trendy.

Alcohol and alcoholism conjure up images of some poor old soak on a park bench. This is a myth as a lot for people regularly exceeding the weekly recommended units of 14 for female and 21 for males do so in their own homes and may not even realise that their regular alcohol consumption is causing a detrimental effect on their health! Also a lot of older people regularly exceed safe drinking limits and this is even more dangerous as alcohol’s effects on the body are more pronounced as we get older and also alcohol can interact with a lot of prescribed medication.

If you feel you have an alcohol problem speak to your GP.

Our winter newsletter gives an alcohol units assessment chart. You can self-refer to the following:-

Torbay Primary Care Alcohol Service
Walnut Road,
Tel :- 01803 – 604334

They will assess you in an introductory session, and then if necessary, engage you in at least six sessions with a qualified alcohol worker. The programme demands self-evaluation and scrutiny and will lead to total abstinence or controlled drinking. They will encourage you to use your own support network (a bit like smoking cessation) this is called “Social Network Behaviour Therapy”. They also use a tool called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy which seeks to give you the option of assessing the outcomes of a particular behaviour in this case , drinking.

Case Study

John was in his mid-forties and had gone to the pub quite a lot in the eighties to share its social scene. He never considered his drinking a problem. But in the latter years due to circumstances beyond his control he had become lonely. As a way of coping with that loneliness he started to drink alone at home. Then in the economic down turn John lost his job. Luckily he had enough money put by after an illustrious career to provide a roof over his head and to pay bills. Then one day John woke up to the fact that he had gradually taken to drinking during the day and night. John’s good friends warned his family in confidence that John was drinking. They found John in a dreadful state, he had lost control of his bowels, he had chronic diarrhoea, and he was unsteady on his feet. His family took him to see his GP who diagnosed early liver failure. His GP referred John to the local substance misuse clinic were his alcohol drinking and depression were tackled. John now lives a healthy life and doesn’t drink


If you have a drug problem and wish to do something about it see your GP or self-refer to Shrublands on 01803 291129.

They will authorise a script for the appropriate amount of substitute as part of a controlled detoxification programme. Shrublands are leaders in their field and will augment your treatment by a series of well proven sessions which you can attend. If you are more or less on the street then you can contact the charity JATTIS who provide board and lodging. The address is given below. IV drug abuse carries its own problems and these are well documented: - HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A B and C, and deep vein thrombosis which leads to the “drug abusers limp.

JATTIS Project
53, Chatsworth Road

Tel:- 01803-200040

98, Winsor Road
Tel:- 01803-314116

(Safe secure housing for those on a maintenance dose of substitute)

It is worth mentioning Cannabis, Crystal Meth and Met Amphetamine which after prolonged use can cause psychosis. Some users have had to be sectioned or go voluntarily to Haytor Ward or Oak Ward for further treatment.

Just lately in the media we are seeing the increased abuse of prescription drugs either obtained over the internet or abuse of those obtained from a GP. Very addictive drugs include among others: - diazepam, codeine, nitrazepam, pregabalin and zopiclone. There is a mistaken belief in society that prescription drugs by their very nature are safe but  they are like any other drug in that they can be abused and have potential hazardous side effects and dangerous interactions with alcohol and other medication. We have robust policy on prescribing any medication at Croft Hall, which includes regular medication review.

 Case Study

Dorothy had trouble sleeping and she was prescribed zopiclone. All went fine until her insomnia increased despite taking zopiclone. She was then prescribed nitrazepam , again all went well for a couple of months. She became infatuated by her lack of ability to sleep taking increasing amounts of sleeping tablets to get to sleep. Her GP called her into the surgery and told her that she should be weaned to a lower dose. The GP suggested a methodology called “Sleep Hygiene” where whether or not Dorothy  slept she remained in bed for an allotted period. This was to train her body into the ways of sleep. She successfully reduced her dose and dispensed with sleeping tablets altogether.    

So help is out there!

Please ask!


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