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Mental health

Many of us experience stress, worry, low mood and lack of sleep at some point during our lives. For most people this is short-lived, but for other people it can be a longer term problem. There is plenty of support available in Dorset to support you with your mental health.

Public Health Dorset commissions a number of mental health services including support for people with drug and alcohol dependencies, mental health first aid training for employers and staff and Kooth – an independent online support system for children aged 11-18.

There are also lots of tools you can use and services you can access to support you with your mental health. Find out more about some of these services below.

Every Mind Matters

Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. There are simple things we can all do to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Visit the Every Mind Matters digital hub to get started with a free action plan, expert advice and practical tips for looking after your mental health.

Steps to Wellbeing

Steps to Wellbeing is a free, confidential service available to people aged 18+. It's run by experienced professionals who will help you take the first step towards improving your mental health. They offer a range treatments for people experiencing problems with low mood, depression, anxiety, stress or other common mental health problems.

Support is available over the telephone, face-to-face, in groups or via the internet. Steps to Wellbeing is a self-referral service which means you can contact them directly to access their services. They also accept referrals from GPs and other healthcare professionals. For more information, visit the Steps to Wellbeing website.


Kooth is a free, confidential online service that helps young people aged 11 – 18 (up to their 19th birthday) who want to talk about their mental health and emotional wellbeing. To access the service, visit the Kooth website.

The service has been commissioned by Public Health Dorset in partnership with Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dorset Healthcare, Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

Young people can access Kooth on any mobile, desktop or tablet device. Once an account is set up, they can access a whole range of services such as unlimited free counselling sessions with trained professionals, moderated forums, self-help materials and a mood journal where they can record their thoughts and feelings. Young people are encouraged to identify their own goals and monitor progress with their counsellor, charting movement as progress is achieved.

Dorset Mind

Dorset Mind has supported people in Dorset for more than 70 years and provides 13 recovery and resilience support groups. It educates people about the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and supports them to identify and develop new coping skills. The charity also runs a one-to-one befriending programme, designed to help people regain confidence and social skills.

Anyone adult in Dorset can access support groups and services across the county through Dorset Mind. The groups can be attended immediately, there are no waiting-times - and best of all you can self-refer.

Details of how to get support in Dorset for mental health problems can be found here.

If you're aged 11-25, access support from Dorset Minds ‘Mind Your Head’ service.

Dorset HealthCare - Access Mental Health

If you are struggling to cope or feel yourself nearing a breakdown, Dorset HealthCare's new Access Mental Health service can help.

Designed in partnership with local people, it offers a range of services which provide support at times and places when people need it the most. You don’t need to be referred by your GP or other health professional, you can just reach out for help when you need it. Mental health professionals and peer support workers will be on hand to help you avoid a crisis and help you find the path to recovery.

  • Connection – a 24/7 helpline open to all ages. Dorset residents or people visiting Dorset can call direct on 0300 123 5440 or access via NHS 111.
  • The Retreat – open to anyone aged 18 or above, providing a safe space to seek face-to-face help and support. It is open every day from 4.30pm-midnight at locations in Bournemouth and Dorchester.
  • Community Front Rooms – open to anyone aged 18 or above, providing a welcoming, safe space where you can discuss problems and work towards possible solutions. It is open from 3.15-10.45pm, Thursday-Sunday, at locations in Bridport, Shaftesbury and Wareham.

More information

For a list of local services visit Dorset Mental Health Forum

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