A NEW service has been launched to help people with mental health issues in part of County Durham.

The Durham Dales Health Federation scheme aims to treat mentally ill adult patients in the community and prevent them moving into secondary care, such as in hospital.

There will be one in Crook, one in Barnard Castle and one in Bishop Auckland.

GPs will refer appropriate patients to the service.

Community Psychiatric Nurse, Emma Hemingbrough, who leads the service, said: “One in four adults will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime and a lot of people in rural areas particularly can feel very isolated.

“There is much more awareness of the need for preventative mental health care services.

“We will assess people’s physical and mental health needs – as often they are linked – and at issues such as medication management, which will support the GPs in their treatment.”

She said the service will not replicate other services and is not there to deal with crises.

Ms Hemingbrough will lead a two person team and deal with patients between the ages of 18 and 65.

The Durham Dales Health Federation comprises GP practices in Barnard Castle, Cockfield, Evenwood, Gainford, Crook, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Butterknowle and Stanhope and Bishop Auckland.