Children and young people in Gloucestershire are now benefiting from an enhanced service to help them deal with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health difficulties.
Children and Young People’s IAPT – Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – has just celebrated its first year of development across the county.
It has culminated in a group of young people from ²gether’s Children and Young People’s Board, working with charity Action for Children, in leading the creation of a film about young people’s mental health which will be used nationally.
Soon to be available on the internet, the film will encourage young people to seek help with mental health issues and raise awareness of the support available.
In addition, as part of the project, young people from Gloucestershire also gave a presentation at the Department of Health’s first ever annual IAPT conference.
Mathew Page, Children and Young People Service Director for the ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have been working to support children for many years, which is so important as figures show that one in 10 children aged between five and 16 have a clinically diagnosable mental health difficulty.
“This scheme has enabled us to build on our experience and offer enhanced support to the young people we work with.
“We know that getting help early and quickly can prevent more serious problems from developing both in childhood and in later life.
“This initiative means we’ve built upon our existing work to offer different forms of therapy, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, specifically for children, and we’re pleased now to be putting it into practice to help the young people we support, as well as their families.”
Last year the ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, with NHS Gloucestershire, became part of one of the first partnerships in the country set up to develop new ways of providing early intervention to improve the mental health of young people.
The initiative was part of a £32 million investment programme by the Department of Health, and saw ²gether successfully bid to join with the University of Reading and other organisations in the initiative.
It has enabled seven staff from ²gether’s Children and Young People’s Service to undertake post graduate training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. These new approaches help children and young people work out their own coping skills and assist them to monitor their progress with their therapist.
Plans are also in place to improve IT systems, reduce paperwork and enhance the referrals system to make it easier for more young people to seek help.
²gether’s staff are now drawing to the end of their training and new working practices have been embedded, with the benefits already being passed on to the young people they work with.
Parents, carers and young people who attended a recent feedback event were very positive about the new ways of working, with comments including:
· “It has been very helpful and is the only service that has helped my daughter” – Parent
· “First class (treatment), really pleased we were given this option” – Parent
· “It is awesome here” – young person
Helen Ford, commissioner of Children’s Services, NHS Gloucestershire, added: “Our services are at the forefront of innovation, enabling children and young people to access the most up to date evidence based support.”
So far, over 100 children, young people and families have been helped by IAPT with nearly all showing significant improvements in addressing their difficulties
When the NHS initiative first started last year ²gether formed part of the Reading and Oxfordshire collaborative, set up alongside collaboratives in London and Salford.
Earlier this year the Department of Health announced two new collaboratives would be set up in the North East and South West.
The children’s IAPT service has adopted elements of the already successful adult Let’s Talk IAPT programme which ²gether offers.
Children and young people have been involved in the development of the project and in the planning and local evaluation, along with charities Action for Children and Young Minds.
Young people experiencing mental health issues can be referred to the service via their GP.
To find out more about our Children and Young People Service please click here