We all feel low or worry from time to time and usually these feelings fade away on their own. But when they just won’t go away or start to interfere with your day-to-day life, First Step can help you get back on track.
First Step is part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and provides free, talking therapies to adults (18+) in North Cumbria (for individuals living in South Cumbria please visit https://www.lscft.nhs.uk/first-step). First Step can help with a range of common mental health problems including mild to moderate depression, anxiety disorders (such as chronic worry, panic attacks, health anxiety and obsessions), mild bulimia, anger or sleep problems.
Our practitioners will listen to your experience and work with you to understand how you have been feeling. Together we will decide what sort of help might work best for you.
Talking treatments (the commons ones being cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling) are designed to help you to understand and change your ways of thinking, feeling and acting which can then help you to do the things you want to do and live a more satisfying life.
We work primarily within working hours, Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, however we do have some slightly earlier or later sessions available. Please discuss this at your telephone assessment if this will be beneficial to you. We see people at a variety of venues, GP surgeries or central community venues.
We work within standard NHS confidentiality guidelines. This means that we will keep notes on your sessions, but we would only share relevant information with others involved in your care, such as your GP. We would only break confidentiality if we felt that there was a risk to you or to someone else.
There are three main ways to access help from First Step for individuals living in North Cumbria
1. Via your GP
If you think we can help, ask your GP if they think First Step is right for you. If they agree they will refer you to us by sending a completed referral form. Once we have received this form, you will need to make contact to arrange an appointment. If we do not receive a referral form from your GP you will need to complete the online questionnaire or request that a questionnaire be posted out to you. Going through your GP usually leads to a smoother service because this means that they can decide what help will be most useful and they can also share important information with us in the referral letter ahead of the assessment.
We will then send you a pack of brief questionnaires to help us understand your problems and collect the information we need when we speak to you. One of our practitioners will discuss your problems with you and decide with you what kind of help might be useful.
2. Via online self-referral
This link takes you to a short form that will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. It will ask about your problems and what you would hope to be different, this helps us to direct you to the most helpful type of treatment.
Due to the health risks associated with disordered eating, First Step is not able to accept self-referrals for this problem. For safety reasons, we require patients to see their GP and have the appropriate physical health checks completed and then discuss with their GP which service might be the most helpful. The GP is then able to make a direct referral.
After you complete the form, you will be asked to complete a ‘captcha’ (internet security measure) to ensure that the referral is from a real person. Once the form is submitted, it will be reviewed by a First Step clinician. After the form has been submitted online please allow 3 working days then ring 0300 123 9122 during normal working hours to book a telephone assessment appointment.
Feel free to ask a friend or family member to help you complete the form if you think this might be useful. If you are struggling to complete the form then please speak to your GP and they can also refer you directly.
Open the online self-referral form
3. Via paper self-referral
If you are unable to access the form online and want to refer yourself, you can ring the First Step Hub (0300 123 9122 during normal working hours) and ask for a paper self-referral form to be sent to you in the post or you can download a form. If you find completing forms difficult then we would encourage you ask for help from friends, family or GP staff.
What our patients say about this service:
At first I was apprehensive, but once I went I slowly started to feel better. I think others would benefit from this.
This was a very positive experience I was very worried about talking about how I felt but from the outset I found the therapist so easy to talk to. I am amazed by the transformation that I have made, and feel certain that I can maintain this progress. I learnt so much about myself and understand how and why I put myself under so much pressure. I would really recommend this service to anyone it has been fantastic. Thank you so much for making my life enjoyable again.