Extra specialist support, early preventative help and innovative new projects are all being used in West Sussex to assist children and young people with emotional wellbeing and mental health issues.
An annual report into commissioning for children and young people's mental health and emotional wellbeing outlines a range of work being done to support all children and young people in the county.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Commissioners look after the specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and also develop a wide range of other services on behalf of West Sussex County Council and three NHS clinical commissioning groups - Coastal West Sussex, Crawley and Horsham and Mid Sussex.
The report, ‘Making progress, making a difference’, highlights that more than 2,250 young people aged 11 to under 18 receive emotional support via the Youth Emotional Support Service (YES) which helps tackle emotional wellbeing issues, from low mood and anxiety feelings to anger, confidence and relationship difficulties.
The YES team currently sees around 200 new young people every month and on average less than 3% go on to require a referral to CAMHS.
A 17-year-old from West Sussex said: “YES has changed the way I think and feel about things and helped me control my anxieties.”
Dr Patience Okorie, NHS Crawley CCG Clinical Lead for children, families and young people, working in partnership with NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG, said: “This service has really improved access to mental health and emotional wellbeing services for young people in our communities. Previously there was a gap for those who needed help now with feelings like stress, anxiety or depression but weren’t at the stage where they needed a referral to mental health services. YES is ideal for this.”
Another new service launched in July 2016 has seen more than 100 children and young people aged two to 18 years old, access therapeutic support for sexual abuse. Provided by Lifecentre, the service offers pre-trial therapy, face-to-face counselling for young people and their families and play therapy for younger children, supported by telephone and text helplines.
Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We know that poor self-esteem and confidence in childhood years often leads to poor health and wellbeing issues throughout adult life which is why it is very reassuring to see such a range of support services on offer from early support to enhanced access to innovative therapies.
“I have a particular passion for the work done by Free Your Mind – an action group of 11-18 year olds who tackle the stigma around mental health. They have become a vital voice for all young people accessing services in West Sussex. I have also heard first-hand from users of YES and was so pleased when they explained how it had changed their lives.”
Another success is in schools as there is now an established a network of named emotional wellbeing leads in every secondary school in the county and there are plans to expand this into primary schools.
Dr Sue Torry, GP and Clinical Lead for mental health at NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG, said: "The YES service is a fantastic support for children and young people in West Sussex.
“Before YES was launched there was only limited help and support for young people with emotional needs who didn't meet the criteria for mental health services but now they can receive personalised support tailored to help them."
Young people who have questions about emotional wellbeing and mental health are encouraged to visit www.yourspacewestsussex.co.uk.