Young People's Services Provide Valuable Early Support

Abelour's young people's services support young people who often present low level mental health concerns, such as anxiety, low mood or self esteem issues. Here is a case study of how young people's services can provide that early support. Aberlour Youthpoint - Moray provides a needs-led, person-centred service to children and young people in Moray, working with disadvantaged, excluded and vulnerable young people aged 12 and over, and their families. The service provides young people with support to enable them to gain and retain control of their own lives and remain in their own homes and communities. Youthpoint - Moray is an example of an early intervention service, which acts as problems are emerging, to prevent poor long term outcomes for children and young people and support their mental health and wellbeing. The service is funded by Moray Council as part of the Council’s children’s services plan. Background Sophie attended Aberlour’s Youthpoint Moray service. She originally had contact with the service as it supported her brother. In her own words, she was “a model kid. I was top of my class and it seemed like nothing really phased me.” Sophie’s’ brother’s behaviour was challenging and he had mental health problems, which were not immediately diagnosed. He was also drinking and taking cannabis. By the time she was 12, Sophie had a new baby sister and her mum was struggling to cope. Sophie’s dad was not around and she felt her mum had enough on her plate, so she would look after her baby sister. Sophie’s mum and brother used to have screaming matches and she would take her little sister out and to get her away from the shouting and arguing. Sophie’s mum was diagnosed with depression and would often stay in bed all day. Sophie’s brother was being supported by Jane, a Young People’s Worker at Youthpoint Moray. After some visits to their house, Jane was concerned about Sophie and noticed that she was experiencing difficulties and felt she need some help and support too. Sophie was now looking after both her younger sisters all the time. She also shouldered the responsibility of making sure her brother didn’t go off the rails. She took responsibility for all the housework as well, doing all the cooking and cleaning. Despite this she was still doing well at school. However, the school didn’t see she was struggling. The Issue Sophie first started having suicidal thoughts when she was 8. She didn’t think her mental health was important and didn’t see it as an issue. She had always been a worrier, and always kept her feelings a secret. By the time she was 12, Sophie had little confidence and low self-esteem. She began to self-harm. When all the things that were happening at home became too much for her she eventually tried to commit suicide, by taking an overdose. What Was Done Jane made a referral for Sophie to Youthpoint – Moray. Jane became Sophie’s Young People’s Worker and would provide her with emotional and practical one-to-one support. Sophie started to attend Youthpoint groups and clubs, although it took a while for her to open up properly. She was very shy and quiet at first and didn’t speak. The groups were focused on activities such as cooking or arts and crafts. Sometimes they would go out and do activities in the community, like going to the cinema or bowling. Because of the support from Jane, and the confidence and self-esteem she gained from attending the groups, Sophie could talk to Jane honestly about her feelings and her moods. She never felt judged and knew she could get the help and support she needed, when she needed it. Sophie’s mum was also able to attend parenting groups at Youthpoint, which provided additional support to parents to talk openly and to develop skills to cope. Sophie was also matched with a volunteer mentor. Sophie’s mentor was able develop a positive relationship based on trust and consistency, by being non-judgmental and providing a listening ear. For a couple of hours of every week Sophie would meet with her mentor to spend time together doing activities or even just for her to talk and her mentor to listen. The Result Over time Sophie’s mental health and wellbeing improved considerably. Sophie continued to access the service until she was 16. She has developed confidence and self-esteem, and she says of herself, “Now I’m so much happier and I’m really confident. I might be too confident and maybe people find that annoying, but to be honest I’ve realised that I can’t please everyone. Before, I used to think that if I couldn’t please everyone, then I wasn’t trying hard enough. I didn’t matter. Now I’m better. I know that I matter.”

Why the contribution is important

Recognising the important part young people's community based services play in identifying and addressing mental health concerns early is key to the early intervention and prevention agenda and alleviating pressure on CAMHS. Third Sector organsiations like Aberlour work with young people in communities across Scotland every day, supporting their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Whislt many are not recognised as mental health service providers, the work they do is integral to mitigating and preventing young people's mental health concerns. 

by MartinCanavan on December 06, 2018 at 03:25PM

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