Mental Health Services in Bristol: “Changes Bristol” Mental Health Support Groups

Author Anon

Mental Health services are stretched throughout the UK and it is getting tougher all the time.  Funding for mental health charities is getting harder to come by and the lack of joined up thinking within our NHS with Mental Health Services is constantly challenged.

In Bristol, services are limited and the help those with challenges such as depression, anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, Personality disorders, self harming, low self esteem, and Body Dysmorphia  are constantly let down by a state system that does not wish to fund or take seriously illnesses we can’t see.

There are many GP’s who are excellent when the patient comes with their problems.  However, there are a good too many who take the easy option or are ignorant of the options available to them.

Due to the inadequacies of the NHS in this field of medicine, many charities exist that provide gaps in health services.  Whether it is coffee mornings where people can go and interact with others who have suffered similar problems or simply break the cycle of isolation; charities that provide support groups that sign post to other organisations or those that provide limited counselling services for a low cost or for free.

Those that suffer from debilitating illnesses like depression find it hard to reach out and be pro-active, so when visiting the GP they would massively benefit from being given information on the options available both within the NHS and locally elsewhere.  Yet even when charities approach PCT’s and GP practices, they are not accommodated or information is not passed on to patients in all too many occasions.

This is very sad, and lets down the very patients they are trying to help.

Getting a GP surgery to take notice of services on offer can be a thankless task. First you have to get passed the stone wall tactics of the “Practice manager”.  A filtering service for the GP, giving them information they “need to know”.

Then if you get passed that hurdle, to get to talk to the GP’s or practice manager to provide information can be an even bigger obstacle.

Can it really be that difficult for a GP to give a patient a piece of paper with local services and charities that could help with their condition? Just one piece of paper? Apparently it is in many cases.

Too frequently the same old avenues are taken.  Medication first – then maybe referral for some talking therapy on the NHS or maybe even CBT – provided you are willing to wait 10 weeks in the mean time (if your lucky).  With the average lead time on medication working anything from 3 weeks to 3 months, it is hardly likely to give any comfort initially to those in a life crisis.

I even know of one case where a mental health charity was holding a support group within a GP practice where there were at least 10 GP’s practising, yet patients were never referred from that practice because the GP’s did not even know the support group existed in the very building they worked in every day.

Joined up mental health services? I hardly think so.

Thankfully, there are many charities and voluntary organisations who do provide services and for those within the Bristol area, one of those organisations is CHANGES BRISTOL.

Changes Bristol” is a Mental Health Charity serving the communities throughout Bristol and currently trying to expand to help more people.

The charity provides venues where any adult can come in a safe and friendly environment to meet other like minded individuals and to share what is happening in their lives.

The meetings are non-judgemental and whatever is said in the room remains in the room – confidentiality is key.

The groups are also a forum where mental health topics are discussed.  The Charity facilitates a 12 step programme where people can chart their progress in coping with or recovering from depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. The charity is non religious.

The 12 Steps 

  • .   Admit you’ve got a problem
    2.   Take Action
    3.   Trust and Cooperate
    4.   Get the Power
    5.   Use and develop personal resources
    6.   Begin Personal Evaluation
    7.   Cultivate Healthy Thinking
    8.   Cultivate Healthy Behaviour
    9.   Realise that Feelings are not Facts
    10. Get on with Your Life
    11. Give it Time
    12. Pass it On
The groups are free though you can donate at each meeting if you would like. Venues include:

MONDAY EVENING – BARTON HILL  7.15-9.30pm (please come at 7pm for a prompt start) The Wellspring Centre, Beam St, Barton Hill, Bristol BS5 9QY

By bus: The number 36 passes close by along Avondale Road and stops very near on the end of Beam Street. Numbers 6, 7, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 stop near Lawrence Hill train station – it’s about a 5 – 10 minute walk from there up Ducie Road.

TUESDAY DAYTIME – HARTCLIFFE  11am- 1.15pm (please come at 10.50am for a prompt start) @Symes Community Building Peterson Avenue, Hartcliffe Bristol BS13 OBE. The meetings are in the same entrance as the Library, in the top corner of the Morrisons car park, just ask at reception. By bus: The numbers 36 and 75 stop a short walk away on Bishport Avenue

TUESDAY EVENING – HORFIELD  7.15-9.30pm (please come at 7pm for a prompt start) The Friends Meeting House, 300 Gloucester Rd, Horfield, Bristol, BS7 8PD  

By bus: The number 73, 73B, 75, 76, 76A, X11, 309, 310, U1 and U2 stop directly outside the building on Gloucester Road and accross the road.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON- REDCATCH, KNOWLE  1.30pm – 3.30pm Redcatch Community Centre, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol, BS4 2EP. By bus: The numbers 379, 376, 54, 51, 36 stop at Greenmore Road and Broad Walk shops a short distance away.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON- WESTBURY-ON-TRYM   1.40pm – 3.40pm (please come at 1.30pm for a prompt start) Westbury-on-Trym Village Hall, Eastfield Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 4AG

By bus: The numbers 1 and 20 stop a short distance away on in the centre of the village

THURSDAY EVENING- HORFIELD   7.15-9.30pm (please come at 7pm for a prompt start) The Friends Meeting House, 300 Gloucester Rd, Horfield, Bristol, BS7 8PD

By bus: The number 75 and 76 stop directly outside the building on Gloucester Road

FRIDAY DAYTIME – BEDMINSTER  10.45m- 1.00pm (please come at 10.35am for a prompt start) RNIB Offices, 10 Stillhouse Lane, Bedminster Bristol, BS3 4EB.

By bus: The numbers 52, 75, 76, 90 all stop on Bedminster Parade, close to ASDA Please note that parking at the RNIB car park is not permitted.

More details are at the Changes Bristol website.
There is help out there, it just takes more time to find it for those suffering depression and anxiety and other mental health conditions.


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