Call for more support for young people with mental health issues

Healthwatch North Somerset is calling for more mental health support for young people.

Healthwatch North Somerset is calling for more mental health support for young people. - Credit: Archant

Students face long waiting lists and ‘fragmented’ support for mental health issues in North Somerset, according to a new report.

Healthwatch North Somerset carried out a survey which found some pupils waited more than a year to access mental health support.

It has published a report calling for a number of changes to be made to improve provision for young people.

Healthwatch North Somerset wants more investment into preventative schemes to catch issues at an early stage and to reduce the pressure on the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The organisation also wants schools to establish a mental health lead to signpost students to the right support.

Evidence suggests the number of children and young people experiencing mental health issues has risen over the past 15 years.

A spokesman for Healthwatch North Somerset said: "One of the recommendations made in this new Young People's Access to Mental Health report is for planned investment into early/preventative emotional wellbeing and mental health provision.

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"This could be done either individually or in groups inside schools and colleges.

"The experiences people shared with us were mixed, with some people waiting a long time to see someone at CAMHS or with the counsellor at their school."

According to the report, support for young people in North Somerset is fragmented and there is no national requirement for secondary schools to have counsellors and no funding to provide intervention.

Wellspring Youth Counselling is the only organisation in the district with children's wellbeing practitioners and it offers cognitive behaviour therapy in four schools.

Most secondary schools and colleges in North Somerset have counsellors or welfare officers to help students, but Healthwatch North Somerset is calling for more scrutiny of the support on offer to ensure young people have access to evidence-based psychological therapies when they need it.

It is also urging the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG to apply for funding to establish an early intervention mental health support team to prevent problems from escalating and reducing pressure on CAMHS.