Mental Health

How we can help

Equal Lives has a range of services that support people experiencing, or at risk of, mental ill health, as well as their families and carers.

All of our team members are aware of how difficult it can be to access the right healthcare or benefits that you might be entitled to, and are trained to offer help and guidance to support you.  We understand the barriers people may face, and the difficulty you may have in explaining your problems to professionals involved in assessing your situation.

Our team have the training, knowledge and experience they need to provide information, advice and support on a range of subjects including:

  • rights and entitlements
  • welfare benefits
  • how to access specialist mental health services
  • what other support services are available locally and nationally
  • discrimination
  • challenging decisions
  • having a voice
  • making a complaint

We also provide advocacy support and representation when this is needed, including meetings with mental health workers and social workers, some court hearings, employment and welfare benefit tribunals, and appointments with other professionals such as GPs.

You can be reassured that we will be non-judgmental and supportive; we cannot promise that you will get the outcome you want, but we will support you so that you can have your voice heard, and give you honest and accurate guidance about what your rights are and what options are available to you.

Our team members are independent. They will work with you and represent your views and wishes and not those of professionals, friends or family members.

Some of the things that people have said about our service include:

“[My advocate] has been incredibly reassuring, friendly, supportive and effective in helping me recover from a terrible period of my life ……  with her help, things seem much better.”

“Her support was invaluable at a time when my mental health was not in a good place; she enabled me to continue an active and independent life.  All the advisers and advocates who have supported me over the years have been excellent.”

“[My advocate] was very informative and I couldn’t have gone to my appeals tribunal without his support. He explained everything step by step to make it easy to understand.”

“The support I received was excellent…I could not go to tribunal without [my adviser’s] knowledge and support and because of this I got a good outcome.”

“I don’t know where I would be without Equal Lives.  I was on a downward spiral into crisis ….I was being completely ignored and uncared for.  I couldn’t cope. Now, with Equal Lives, I feel more in control and understand my rights and entitlements.”

If you click back to the main Info and Advice page, please take a look at the sidebar on the right hand side for further information and advice on a range of topics.  There are guides for you to use, but if you need further explanations or support please contact us at

Suicide Prevention

Norfolk County Council has details of new support available around suicide prevention. Have a look at the resources available at  This includes a downloadable mobile app called ‘Stay Alive’ designed for those at risk of suicide as well as people worried about them.

This page is for those supporting someone who may be considering suicide:

Independent Mental Health Advocacy

If someone is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983, or subject to a Community Treatment Order, they are entitled to an Independent Mental Health Advocate.  In Norfolk this service is provided by POhWER, and we work closely with them to make sure that people receive the support they are entitled to.  For further information, please follow this link:

Other Help

We also recommend the websites of several other organisations:

If you look at our Members’ Area at you will find a number of local organisations that may also be able to offer advice and support. which is particularly good at providing information about conditions, symptoms, medications and treatments. which has a great directory of information and support, including guidance on the Mental Health Act, the Mental Capacity Act and rights before, during and after someone is detained under the Mental Health Act and which is specifically for children and young people.

Mind also run a free phone support line 0808 802 0208 which runs from 4pm to midnight Monday to Friday, and 10am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.   They will offer coping strategies, emotional support, practical advice and signposting, and will also refer on to the Crisis Team if appropriate. which provides information around mental health support services for people with learning disabilities. which also will link you to many other organisations. which is very good as a source of practical help and self-help.

The Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day, in full confidence.  Call their free helpline 116 123 or email and for advice and support services, in crisis and in recovery.

 Shelf Help Collection – young people’s mental health (and of interest to others):

  • The Shelf Help Collection is a new national initiative in all of Norfolk’s public libraries, supported by Norfolk County Council Public Health services. It is essentially a list of 35 books, selected by mental health specialists and recommended by young people, to help cope with the pressures of life, feel better and boost confidence.
  • The scheme is an extension of the successful Reading Well/Books on Prescription schemes for adults with mental health problems and people with dementia and their carers. The Shelf Help Collection is to support young people aged 13 -18 and their friends and families dealing with mental health problems and to raise awareness of common issues, including advice and information about anxiety, stress and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and difficult experiences like bullying, body image and exams.
  • All of the Shelf Help books are now available and can be borrowed by young people, their friends, parents or carers, and professionals and any interested people from all of Norfolk’s libraries. See here for the link to the Shelf Help Collection on the Public libraries catalogue. Young people under 18 can request that any book in the County is sent to their local library or mobile library, free of charge, to be picked up by them.



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