Keep the Trust: validated assumptions

Assumption

Validation

Non-mental health workers who work with young people can be identified

Non-mental health workers include midwives, health visitors, tutors, social workers,  Citizens Advice staff, housing and employment support workers and youth and community workers to name but a few. They are also often the first point of contact for young people with emerging mental health issues.

Non-mental health workers struggle to support young people with mental health issues

Many practitioners, such as college tutors, do not receive initial training in mental health awareness. 30% of participants in 2010’s CAMHS review reported that their access to training and development opportunities in supporting young people’s mental health issues was poor.

It’s not just about understanding their mental health needs, it’s about understanding their mental health needs as 16-25 year olds

Non-mental health workers have an important role to play in supporting mental health

The services they provide are often considered to be early intervention mental health services in that they are universal services (e.g. clinics, youth centres, welfare services etc) available to all and staffed by people whose primary qualification is not in mental health. There are also targeted services aimed at specific groups of young people, or with the purpose of meeting a particular need or vulnerability, such as counselling and services for those not in education, employment, or training (NEET).

There are benefits to early intervention

There is a large, respectable, trustworthy evidence base for early intervention. It’s both inherently better and cheaper than late intervention. For young people with mental health issues it can mean getting earlier support in a non-mental health setting where they may feel more comfortable. This can reduce the likelihood of their deterioration in their symptoms or reaching crisis point.

Young people want mental health services that they can access in general, young person friendly settings

Young people have said consistently and repeatedly that they wish to choose the setting in which they receive support for mental health difficulties. The settings they most frequently choose are those with which they are already familiar and in which they feel unthreatened and comfortable. Many young people find specialist mental health services stigmatising and prefer more low-key support.

All this is important

2010’s CAMHS review clearly identified the need for a workforce who:

–   understand what mental health and psychological well-being is;

–   know what they can do to improve it;

–   have access, in a way that is relevant to them, to an accessible and high-quality body of knowledge that covers both the growing evidence base on interventions to improve mental health, as well as best practice in working with young people.

Time for Change’s approach is based on a similar view: “studies show that roughly half of all lifetime mental health problems start by the mid-teens, and three quarters by the mid-20s. Ultimately, our aim is that young people who experience any mental health problems can receive support and understanding from those around them”.

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