Sussex Pathfinder Youth Mental Health Service - part 1 - Development

Presentation First Author: 
Rick Fraser

Adolescence, the period of transition from child to adulthood, is a period of rapid emotional, physical, intellectual and social change. Half to three quarters of all mental health difficulties begin before the age of 25 (Kessler et al. 2005). Mental health and substance use problems are regarded by some to be the most important issues facing young people today (McGorry et al 2005). Government policy has emphasised the need for improved youth focused services, setting a framework for prevention, early intervention and collaborative development of innovative services with an emphasis on ease of access, inclusivity and partnership with local organisations (New Horizons, 2010). We will be describing how the Sussex Youth Strategy Group began the process of developing a youth mental health service at a time of particular economic austerity. This project has been a collaborative venture involving local input from mental health (CAMHS and AMHS), substance misuse services, primary care, county council, young people (eg Youth Parliament) and non-government organisations. Support in the South East of England was received from the Strategic Health Authority and from this developed the Youth Mental Health Network. National and international collaboration proved there is world-wide interest and a drive towards generating interest in developing youth services, engaging local groups to join together in order to generate new ways of creatively addressing what is accepted by many as a serious problem. An economic analysis and modeling of youth mental health services was commissioned by this group (Knapp & McCrone) which is to be completed later this year. There were already pockets of excellent work being carried out with young people in Sussex. Scoping revealed that various organisations were working hard to help young people struggling with various health and social problems. This work was often duplicated or else different services spoke different languages making the system unwieldy. Within the secondary mental health service our scoping showed that gaps proliferated and young people were at risk of falling into them. Particularly access and transition points were identified as being hot spots for non- and disengagement from services. The model chosen for this service focuses on ease of access, engagement and a youth centred approach to delivering effective services. The youth service will aim ultimately to achieve economic efficiencies through earlier identification of mental health problems, effective engagement and collaborations with partner organisations. The pathfinder service has been located in an existing connexions/find it out (young persons service) building in the centre of Crawley. Crawley was chosen as the first site for the youth mental health service as it represents an area of particular social deprivation and has a diverse demographic. This presentation will describe the development of the youth service pathfinder project in Sussex; the learning, the collaborations, the process of engaging partners and the journey so far as well as the goals for the future. The second part of this presentation (Sussex Pathfinder Youth Mental Health Service - Part 2 - Set Up and Early Evaluation - Clark/Jones) will provide some initial pathway data as well as some more specific service description and development of the assessment process. These presentations will be of interest to clinicians, managers, commissioners/stakeholders and service users/carers alike.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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