People with urgent mental health problems in Wales can now ring a free NHS hotline.

The 24-hour seven-day-a-week service can be accessed by dialling NHS 111 and selecting option two.

For anyone in Torfaen who needs immediate help for their own mental health or for someone they know - a loved one, a colleague, a neighbour - they can use this helpline to be supported by compassionate professionals, who have local knowledge of the area and health-board.

As Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing it has been really good to oversee the launch of this new service and I hope it will be an alternative for many to attending emergency departments or calling emergency services.

The Welsh Government wants to make access to mental health services easier and this service is part of a wider package that includes self-referral to online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy through Silvercloud

Welsh Government has provided £6m funding for the telephone service which will provide rapid access to advice assessment and support from a trained mental health practitioner. Where required, individuals can be seamlessly referred into specialist mental health services or to self-help support.

The service has been gradually rolled out since last November. It has already helped more than 15,000 people in distress as well as concerned carers and family members to get the support they need.

As well as providing brief interventions to reduce distress and manage immediate mental health crisis, '111 press 2' has provided timely access to mental health services. For the minority, this has meant urgent care services, NHS mental health services, or primary care, but the majority have been navigated to local third sector groups or been given advice on self-management.

The number is free to call from a landline or mobile, even if the person accessing the service has no credit left. NHS 111 Press 2. 24/7, 365 days a year.