The Harbour mental health crisis café opens in Lewisham

A new mental health crisis café called ‘the Harbour’ opened its doors yesterday at University Hospital Lewisham.

The Harbour – a joint partnership between the hospital, Certitude and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) – will provide peer support to people experiencing a mental health crisis. The aim is to offer people who are feeling distressed someone to talk to in a relaxed, non-clinical setting.

Open from 2pm to 6am, seven days a week, the Harbour will be staffed by a range of experts, including people who have experienced mental health issues. “We are delighted to be involved in this great new partnership,” said Liz Durrant, Director of Mental Health for Certitude. “We believe in the power of peer support and the need for alternative places for people to get support when they are experiencing crisis.”

Former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George formally opened the café, adding a touch of glamour to its unveiling. “I’m really excited to be supporting this fantastic initiative for local people and to reduce the stigma around mental health,” said Dr Alex, who works at the hospital. “I see many people every day in A&E experiencing mental health needs, such as anxiety and depression. This café will be a safe place for them to come, take some time out, talk about their concerns and give them access to specialist support.”

SLaM Lewisham Service Director, Donna Hayward-Sussex added: “We are pleased to be supporting people in Lewisham, who are experiencing mental distress, to get the help and advice they need and are referred to this new crisis café service. Working in partnership with local health partners, as well as people who have experienced mental health problems in the past, those feeling vulnerable and no longer able to cope, will be seen by the right expert people, in the right place at the right time.”

We were also delighted to welcome Janet Daby, MP for Lewisham East, who spoke highly of the project and emphasised the need for more mental health services around London.