Last week was ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ however the need to consider the mental health of ourselves and others is continuous.
This is especially true of young peoples’ mental health. Young people have always faced challenges, but many of these have become more intense, further exacerbated by Covid.
I have been in contact with our local Secondary School Heads in the last few days and I know how hard all are working with their pastoral support teams in school to support students who need extra assistance. Mental Health First Aid and support is being rolled out across all schools and many are finding the techniques really helpful. I have also raised with the Government the idea, suggested by one Head, that we should also be making Mental Health First Aid courses available to parents.
It is really important that young people have a trusted adult with whom they can talk.
However mental health is an extremely complex issue, the support of GPs and other practitioners is invaluable as is the work of charities like Young Minds
Covid has made everything more difficult. As part of the new support for mental health in schools funding will include a new Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, providing expert training and resources for staff helping young people experiencing additional pressures from the last year.
Not everyone who feels sad or down will need extra professional support but for some this is really important.
The YES service is designed to help 11-18 year olds who feel they may need support with their wellbeing. The service is free and can help with a range of mental health wellbeing issues. I have seen them operating brilliantly before the pandemic and I know the service is needed more than ever. I also very conscious that the service is under pressure because of Covid - at a time when it is needed more than ever.
CAMHS, who provide mental health support to young people have superb doctors and nurses who are hugely dedicated. There has been a significant increase in resources for CAMHS however, notwithstanding these increasing resources it takes time to train the professionals needed. There are no easy answers but we must do all we can to get more Mental Health Nurses and Doctors through onto the frontline - about which I know they are acutely aware.
Lastly if you are with a young person who is going through a mental health crisis please do remember that A&E is available and does have specialised mental health practitioners who can assist in the immediate crisis albeit this is never the solution for long term support.