A new service is being introduced to help improve the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children and young people in Stoke-on-Trent.
Coinciding with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the new service ‘Stay Well’ has been introduced by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It will be run on their behalf by a well-established local charity ‘Changes’ in partnership with North Staffs Mind and the Dove Service.
More children and young people are set to benefit from the service which will be offered from a number of locations including schools, colleges and community venues across Stoke-on-Trent.
Users of the new service will also benefit from a wider range of support than was available previously, with the aim of building an individual’s resilience and coping mechanisms. Options available include training sessions and information on how to stay well, peer group support, mindfulness programmes, social activities where individuals can connect and communicate, and one-to-one support all aimed at helping young people to decide how best to manage their emotional issues.
Support can also be accessed via speakupspace.co.uk – a website that will be expanded over the next few months so that children and young people can get instant access to support via a live chat function. Additional features on the site will include information and support for children and young people, care givers and professionals via self-help resources (videos, podcasts, and e-leaflets); and signposting into relevant local services.
By expanding the range of services for young people, ‘Stay Well’ aims to reduce waiting times and offer children, young people and their families greater choice and flexibility in the support they can access. It means an improved offer for young people up to the age of 18 who are experiencing low-level mental wellbeing who do not need to be in NHS mental health services, for example with exam stress, anxiety, phobias and low moods.
Stay Well has been designed after feedback from children, young people and families across Stoke-on-Trent and incorporates best practice and the latest evidence based approaches to children’s wellbeing.
Cllr Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Previously in Stoke-on-Trent, if a child was struggling with any mental wellbeing issue, a referral would be made for counselling. Assessment and access to this could take up to three months by which point the issue may have gone away or even escalated. When we consulted with children and young people, they told us this wasn’t good enough.
“Supporting children and young people is our number one priority and Stay Well will give young people and their families the chance to access the most appropriate services for their needs in a more timely and efficient way. This is about giving individuals in the city a range of options to help them stay psychologically and emotionally well.”
Cllr Lilian Dodd, champion for mental health at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “We chose World Mental Health Day to launch the service so we can also help raise the message that the mental wellbeing of children and young people is everyone’s responsibility. By working together in a co-ordinated preventative way we can really help to improve children’s psychological and emotional wellbeing. Stay Well also helps us to meet the long-term objective set by government to improve children’s mental health.”
Dr Waheed Abassi, Mental Health lead for the CCG, said “Delivering a high-quality mental health service for children and young people in Stoke-on-Trent is a key priority for us. It is fantastic that we are able to invest in this new service, which will ensure that those who need these services are able to easily access the support they need, when they need it.”
City council officials joined the Communication Workers Union and Staffordshire Police in raising awareness of mental health issues by posting messages of hope and sign posting to support services in the city centre on World Mental Health Day.