The creation of reliable locations for those suffering from depression and other conditions, to go when in crisis is essential. Our entire community suffers when those who need a safe haven are unable to find such a space. Without recourse and unable to find a place that fits their needs, many of those who are going through a mental crisis are forced to check themselves into hospital. Not only is this costly for the patient, but it takes a toll on the taxpayer as well. These hospitals were not designed to accommodate a large number of people, and we’ve already seen just how overcrowded these places can become.

The far more cost-effective (and logical) solution is to construct a number of mental health safe havens that people can go to when they find themselves going through a mental health crisis. These are facilities that cater specifically to the needs of those in crisis, and they are a cheap alternative to expanding our hospital system. Let’s explore what safe havens are, how they can improve the wellbeing of our community members, and the kinds of problems they will eradicate.

What are safe havens?

All across Surrey, the government is changing the way that mental health crises are dealt with. Instead of setting up an institutionalized system, this setup works directly with local providers to implement a change in the use of facilities that makes sense for both patient and provider.

These mental health safe havens are fully staffed by qualified professionals who have extensive experience helping those who are suffering from the effects of mood disorders. It’s helpful to see these safe havens as being comparable to the level of care that you’d find in your average hospital. These facilities are not inferior to the system we already have. They’re just cheaper and more efficient.

What kind of challenges do we face with mental health safe havens?

As of right now, the mental health safe havens in Surrey are not dispersed widely enough to serve the needs of the entire community. As a result, it’s important that members of the community become aware that these facilities exist so that they can spread and better serve their needs. The encouraging news in all of this is that mental health needs are only increasing as time goes on. This is discouraging for the patients themselves, but it also means that these safe havens can rise to the occasion and help ease some of the pain that our community has been seeing.

Another major area of concern is the fact that the majority of the time crises are reported, the police are the ones who end up dealing with the situation. While the police are adept at handling cases of criminality, their procedures do not adequately deal with the issue of mental health crises. Very often, those suffering from a crisis are locked up in a cell when what they really need is treatment. Mental health safe havens in Surrey are offering that opportunity for patients to get better instead of a criminal record.

What is the approach?

While this initiative has since expanded into a variety of locations in Surrey, the first centre of its kind was opened in the Aldershot area. Considering just how successful that centre was in a relatively short period of time, it’s since been expanded to service a great deal more locations in Surrey. Instead of only being seen by a single mental health professional, each patient is actually treated by a dedicated team of three professionals who each bring a unique disciplinary experience to their treatment process.

As opposed to operating with a one-size-fits-all mindset in the way that one might find when going to hospital, these mental health safe havens operate by delivering a tailored approach which will serve the needs of the individual patient who’s being treated. Not only does this approach make more sense from a treatment standpoint, but a patient will psychologically feel safer when they believe that their treatment team cares about them as well as their recovery.

What is the impact on the community?

Put simply, the impact on the community is tremendous. While these mental health safe havens do focus primarily on mood disorders and the like, they are also equipped to meet the needs of those who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. It’s all too common for those suffering from one of these diseases to be made to suffer further by having their disease criminalized. What these people need, though, is not a criminal record but treatment.

The focus of a hospital, unfortunately, is profit. It’s more profitable for large hospitals to treat patients rather quickly and then move them out so that new patients can stream in. This simply isn’t the approach that the mental health safe havens in Surrey employ. The focus lies instead on the well-being of each and every patient, and this carries over from when the patient is first admitted to when they’re released. People are not numbers. People are people.

How is the sharing of information handled?

The sharing of information when a patient is suffering from a mental health crisis is a particularly troubling subject indeed. Professionals want to share certain pieces of information in order to better facilitate the patient’s recovery, but they don’t want to release any information that could be damaging to the person. Considering just how much of a delicate situation the patient already finds themselves in, the last thing a mental health safe haven wants to do is exacerbate this problem by violating the patient’s trust and revealing information to others that the patient doesn’t want released.

To “remedy” this problem, most hospitals and health care organizations simply don’t release any information. This might cover the organization legally, but it also serves as a way of re-traumatizing the patient whenever they have to tell their story over and over to a new professional. The far better approach in this matter is to work closely with those in the centre to ensure that sensitive information is kept confidential while the essential elements of the patient’s story are disclosed with the proper individuals. For instance, it’s relatively safe to share the reason for the patient’s admission into the safe haven. This way, the patient won’t have to revisit a painful memory and potentially have a mental health relapse in the process.

The issue of mental health in this country is a delicate one, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be an inefficient one. Instead of relying on patients going to hospital when they’re struck by a mental health crisis, it’s far more effective to set up designated mental health crisis safe havens in order to ensure that the patient is getting the treatment that they need in an individualized, professional manner. The way that information is handled is far safer in the setting of a safe haven, and the cost for both the patient and the taxpayer will be driven down significantly. As mental health safe havens continue to spread all around the Surrey area, it seems that the issue of mental health crises will only continue to be dampened.


Surrey Safe Havens

Wellbeing Centre
121-123 Victoria Road
GU11 1JN

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times:
6-11pm Monday to Friday, 12:30-11pm weekends and bank holidays


Welcome Project
147 London Road
GU15 3JY

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times
6-11pm, Monday and Friday (two days per week)


The Larches

44 Waterloo Road
KT19 8EX

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times
6-11pm daily


Oakleaf Enterprise
101 Walnut Tree Close

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times
Open daily 6-11pm including Bank Holidays.


Wingfield Resource Centre
St Anne’s Drive

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times
Monday – Sunday 6-11pm.


30 Goldsworth Road
GU21 6JT

Telephone Number: 0300 55 55 222 (Trust switchboard)

Opening Times
6-11pm Monday to Friday, 12:30-11pm weekends and bank holidays