A Chat With: Jake Mills CEO, Chasing The Stigma & Creator of the Hub of Hope

With Mental Health Awareness Week drawing to a close, we chat to Jake Mills, the CEO and founder of Liverpool-based national mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma about the Hub of Hope and why it is appealing for more LGBT+ specific support services to register on the app.

Why did you set up Chasing the Stigma?

Back in 2013, I was struggling with depression and after months of internal turmoil and feeling like I had nowhere to turn, I attempted to take my own life. Thankfully, I was found before it was too late. I started on the road to recovery and a few months later I opened up on social media. I figured there must be so many more people feeling like I did out there and I felt compelled to speak up. 

As soon as I did, people started contacting me saying they felt the same and it quickly became clear that the fear of being judged was preventing many people from seeking help. I wanted to do something to change that, so Chasing the Stigma was born.

What does Chasing the Stigma do?

We are not mental health experts, but an organisation that is run by people with lived experience of mental health issues. We know how hard it can be to find help, we know the impact that not finding help when you need it can have, so we aim to make finding expert mental health support easier and more accessible, which is where the idea for the Hub of Hope came from.

So what is the Hub of Hope?

The Hub of Hope is an app that uses location-based technology to help find the nearest and most relevant mental health support. It is the most comprehensive signposting tool in the UK, with more than 1,200 services currently registered, including national, local and grassroots and community services that provide help for a wide range of concerns, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

The app either picks up your location or you input your postcode manually and it displays all the support services near you. You can also filter these by particular concerns as well. 

Will you know what users have searched for?

Absolutely not. It is a completely anonymous service. It is free to use and we don’t ask you for any details, we simply point you in the direction of the help you need. All we can see is how many people have visited and when, which helps us identify spikes in usage and can reflect what kinds of things are affecting people’s mental health.

For example, we have seen traffic to the Hub of Hope increase by almost 230 percent during lockdown, with spikes more or less mirroring major government announcements.

Statistics show that LGBT+ people are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, so how can the Hub of Hope help them?

All of the 1,200+ services currently registered on the Hub of Hope are there to help ANYONE who is struggling, regardless of how they identify. Many may well also offer LGBT+ specific services, but they have added a general listing. 

At present, we have a very small number of LGBT+ specific services listed and this is something that we are working on, but we need your help. 

We know there are many brilliant services providing support specifically to the LGBT+ community, here in the Liverpool City Region and across the UK. We want to make those services easier to find for LGBT+ people who need them.

As a charity, we are having those discussions on a national basis, but local, community and grassroots services are incredibly vital and we know that the best way to find them is via the communities that access them and the people that refer to them.

The Hub of Hope is growing by the day as we continuously add services but, quite honestly, we can’t know every service alone. So we are asking that if you are an organisation providing an LGBT+ specific mental health support service, that you register – for free – on the Hub of Hope app and list your service under “LGBT+ Support”.

If you are an individual who is aware of a LGBT+ specific mental health support service, located in Liverpool City Region or even further afield, get in touch and let us know. We have a dedicated Hub of Hope coordinator who will make contact with them and get them listed.

What impact has the Hub of Hope had to date?

To date the Hub of Hope has directed more than 120,000 people to life-changing and even life-saving support since its launch in mid-2017. It is now considered the UK’s go-to signposting tool and it is used by phone advisors on Papyrus’ Hopeline, Samaritans, as part of the Zero Suicide Alliance’s acclaimed ‘See Say Signpost’ training, as well as by emergency services across the country and more than 25 national mental health organisations.

What if you need urgent help?

We know that sometimes, help is needed urgently, so the app also has a ‘Call Someone Now’ feature, which can connect the user straight to a call with the Samaritans and a ‘Text Someone Now’ feature, which links to Crisis Text Line, an organisation that delivers 24/7 crisis support across the UK. You can access that support at any time by texting HOPE to 85258.

How do I register a service?

It’s really easy, simply complete the form at the bottom of their webpage and we’ll do the rest. It’s completely free as well. If you just want to tell us about a service then you can contact us here or email trish@chasingthestigma.co.uk

Find out more about how to access the Hub of Hope here: chasingthestigma.co.uk/hub-of-hope/


You can view our ‘Chat With’ Jake video here:

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LCR Pride Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales, no 1185167. Registered Company 11754074.