Christmas appeal to improve provision for
Young People’s Mental Health
A significant percentage of young people in the Sid Valley have mental health issues and prompt support for them is often lacking. We have the opportunity to extend the Headlight project running in Axminster to the Sid Valley if we can raise £10,000 match funding. This would support up to 24 young people with mental health issues and their families for a year. We have already raised about £6,000.
We know that our mental health and wellbeing are vital to our ability to thrive and achieve. But one in ten young people has some form of diagnosable mental health condition and we know that children with a mental health problem face unequal chances in their lives, and for many their childhood mental health issues continue into adulthood. There is ample evidence that prompt, early intervention is very effective in helping young people and often only limited counselling and mentoring is required.
Nearly all of us will know someone in our family or friendship group who suffers from poor mental health. Nationally:
a quarter of 16 to 24 year old women (25.7%) reported having self-harmed(National Study of Health and Wellbeing 2014)
50% of mental health conditions are established by the age of 14(Mental Health Foundation)
Childline is contacted every 30 minutes by a young person experiencing suicidal thoughts (NSPCC)
What does this mean locally?
In the South West 15.5% of 5 to 19 year olds experience some form of mental disorder, the second highest figure amongst the English regions.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is the main NHS provision for young people under 18 with mental health support needs but it has waiting times of up to one year. This much too long for vulnerable children and young people to have to wait for the help that they need.
Last year Sid Valley Practice GPs referred 102 children and young people under 18 to CAMHS. This number does not include schools, youth club or self referrals. We think that it is an underestimate because GPs often refer people to private support if they can afford to pay and the schools often don’t refer, or try to find other provision, because the wait is too long.
Sidmouth College are aware of 18 young people who have self-harmed across all year groups since September 2018. The School Counselling service has supported 206 students since 2015 and the School Councillor sees 10 students per week. There is an on-going waiting list of around 25 students. A new volunteer counsellor is seeing up to 5 students per week. The School Nurse has one day available each 2 weeks and sees 5 students. She has seen 10 students since September and there is a waiting list.
Clearly there is not enough support available to meet the needs of our local children.
What can be done?
A lot is being done in the Primary schools, Sidmouth College and in Young Devon to support young people and there has been a wonderful response from the community to support prevention and early intervention provision. We are also lucky to have a Town Council that continues to support young people through the Youth Centre and the funding for a mental health practitioner in the community.
However demand exceeds provision and so last year in Sidmouth a group of people who wish to do something locally to support young people with mental health issues set up an informal group called the Wellbeing and Health Action Team (WHAT).
The WHAT group has identified the opportunity to bring a programme called Headlight into Sid Valley for those young people who need specialist help. Headlight provides a friendly, non-clinical programme for young people who are experiencing emotional and mental health issues and their families. It is currently running in Axminster and Ottery St Mary - see www.actioneastdevon.org.uk/about-us/projects-and-services/headlight.
National funding of £10,000 has been acquired, but we need a further £10,000 in matched funding from the local community before we can begin delivery of the programme. The Sid Valley project would be delivered by Action East Devon in partnership with others and the governance and finance will be handled by Sid Valley Help. We are seeking donations from a wide range of organisations and individual fundraisers from across the Sid Valley to enable this project start.
We are appealing to members of our community to help us raise the money for this project so that we can help young people fulfil their potential in life and prevent as many young people as possible becoming adults with a mental health problem.
If you can donate, or want further information, please contact email@example.com or make a BACS payment to Sid Valley HELP Sort code 55-50-06 Account Number 56116985. Sid Valley Help is a local registered charity, website www.sidvalley help.org.uk.