For young people adolescence is often a trying time, with many physical, emotional and social changes going on in their lives. Young people need a coordinated mental health service, with easy access (probably in schools) to a confidential service, where there is no way for teachers, peers, or parents to find out.
Three or four years ago all local authority areas were funded to pilot targeted MH services in schools. There was an evaluation of what worked well and there is increasing evidence of effectiveness. A service delivered in hospital can feel more stigmatising and less accessible. We need to help early and reduce number of young people ending up needing in patient care and we know there is a shortage of such beds. joined up commissioning is key.
From 2004 to 2008 when I was involved in attempting to put such a service in place in my school the barriers were: short term funding which meant we could only offer a two year contract, lack of suitably qualified counsellors with experience of working with children and young people, lack of flexibility in employment - we wanted to employ someone to work with a high school and a cluster of primary schools, the necessity to include clinical supervision (our school nurse agreed to do this).
Isolating vulnerable young people from their teachers, peers and parents would make their lives much, much worse.
Given that NHS England Youth Forum represents the views those of the age of 11 -25, it has to be said that patient pathways is divided by those services for children and young people up to 18 and for adults over the age of 18, NICE Clinical Guidelines are clear on this. NHS England should acknowledge that adults over the age of 18 who would be more likely to be found in pubs and clubs etc and not schools and colleges are likely to be not represented by the youth forum due to being adults.
Professionals that young people are in contact with (youth workers, teachers etc.) need to have an understanding of mental health, and feel able to pass on concerns about young people in the care. In addition, they need to have an understanding that simply smiling can have a positive impact on emotional health and well-being
The earlier the intervention the better.
Children in school should be able to access confidential counselling type services. However if the issues require a GP or higher services then I think the parents should be included. There need to be no involvement from peers or teachers but the parents should know what is happening to their child whilst they are under school leaving age
Mental health services must be accessible to young people and not be overburdened by patients. They should be proactive in encourage a positive attitude to mental health and well being in schools, youth groups/clubs and other high concentrations of young people. A positive attitude may simply be smiling or taking the opinions of young people seriously.
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