A NEW base for mental health services in east Durham has been officially opened by Easington MP Graham Morris.

The Old Vicarage, in Seaham, is part of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to modernise its mental health and learning disabilities services.

With investment of £148,000, The Old Vicarage has been extensively refurbished to provide improved accommodation and space for patients, carers and staff, including consulting rooms, a clinic room, administrative offices and group rooms.

The team of nurses, doctors, therapists, psychologists, support and social workers previously based at Easington Medical Centre, moved to their new base in January.

They offer assessment, treatment and support for older people who are suffering from mental health illnesses who also have complex physical health problems.

The additional clinical space at The Old Vicarage is being used by the community team to provide their patients and carers with a choice in where they would like to be seen.

This can be either at the new base, or in their own home. It also means that they can deliver more group work including carer education, cognitive stimulation therapy and wellbeing groups.

Opening the facility Mr Morris said: “Mental health is too often overlooked and this is particularly true of mental health services for older people.

“It is therefore a great privilege to be asked to officially open The Old Vicarage, which will provide vital community mental health facilities for the people of east Durham.”

Trust chairman Lesley Bessant said: “I am delighted that Grahame agreed to officially open The Old Vicarage here in Seaham.

“The refurbished accommodation will help us ensure that we continue to provide the highest level of care and support to those who need it.”