Focus on young people for mental health awareness week

Posted on: 11 May 2017

Cultivating good mental health in Devon is the focus of the national Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 14 May).

The week gives us the chance to look at how our flagship children’s mental health service, Early Help for Mental Health (EH4MH) has supported young people since its introduction in September last year.

The service was introduced by public health to promote and support resilience in children and young people by tackling mental health problems early before they become more serious, through two elements; direct early-intervention services for young people; and a school support programme.

Since its launch the service has helped hundreds of young people across the county; Young Devon provides direct support and has seen nearly 1,000 young people access the service, through face-to-face counselling programmes, young people’s support and participation groups and mentoring programmes.

This is supported by Kooth, an online service (provided by Xenzone) where young people can access self-help information, take part in moderated forums and get confidential advice from counsellors. So far there have been over 2,800 young people registering and using this service.

Jamie Keyse, EH4MH Service Manager at Young Devon said: “Our focus is centred on the young person, helping them identify their worries and feelings and agreeing the right support to help them. The young person is in control of their own support and are enabled to decide where to go next.”

One young person got support from an EH4MH counsellor when she was suffering from low mood and anxiety due to relationship problems at home. This had a negative impact on her self-image and had led to anxiety in social situations and at school. With help from a counsellor her confidence starting increasing, family relationships improved and she was able to start talking positively about herself again.

Young people have fed back positive comments such as: “Nice to be able to talk and feel validated. This helped me to find coping methods that are helpful to me.”

“I was allowed to talk about worries and think about them more. They (Young Devon) provided suggestions for resources that will help me. I was listened to and treated very well.”

Working with schools is an important aspect of the service. 283 – over 75% of Devon’s schools – are now actively engaging with the school support service, which provides free training, consultation and clinical supervision from mental health professionals and supports positive cultural change in supporting mental health issues in young people.

Sarah Lewis, EH4MH operational lead at Virgin Care Services Ltd, said: “Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults. I’m delighted to be working with so many schools in Devon, who are doing an amazing job in supporting their young people develop resilience for life.”

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