A new Emotional Wellbeing Hub for children, young people and their families is set to officially launch as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (14 -20 May).
The hub, which is one of the first of its kind in the country, will provide a unique, one-stop point of information and support for people concerned about the mental health or emotional wellbeing of anyone aged up to 25.
Specially-trained Emotional Wellbeing Practitioners – including five staff from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), two of whom are experienced mental health nurses – will respond to telephone and web-based contact from young people, family members and health professionals from across east and west Suffolk.
The practitioners will provide support and guidance and, when needed, referral to an appropriate service such as NSFT’s community mental health teams, Wellbeing Suffolk, Suffolk County Council’s Early Help Team or School Nursing Team or one of the county’s voluntary sector services.
Dr John Hague, a GP in Ipswich and mental health lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a tremendous step forward in how we respond to the emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of our young people, who deserve the very best start in life.
“So often, people just don’t know where to turn for help for a mental health issue. Seeking help can be daunting. Yet, early intervention is so important so that the young person can get the help and support they need as quickly as possible.
“Now, just one telephone call or email will open up access to health professionals and services that could make a real and positive difference.”
Steve Bush, NSFT’s Locality Manager for Children, Families and Young People’s Services, said: “There were a number of priorities young people and carers gave us when we were developing this service, including being able to speak to someone they could trust to help at the point of need; that the professionals take the time to listen; and that it offered a simple way to access services.
“By offering support and advice over the phone, the hub team can help people find solutions and services straight away matching the young person or family to the right service, at the right time, without being sent from pillar to post.
“The staff have been recruited for their skills in talking with young people and carers and the service is designed to ensure staff can take their time to listen and go at the young person’s pace.”
Anne Humphrys, co-chair of Suffolk Parent Carer Network, said: “We are tremendously excited for the launch of the hub and are very proud to have been part of its development from the very beginning. This is the product of a lot of hard work and shows the commitment that partners have to ensuring that the emotional health and wellbeing needs of children, young people and families in Suffolk are taken seriously.
“We have been an equal partner in this project. We were a core part of the recruitment of staff and remain part of the monitoring processes to ensure that it is doing what it set out to do. For the first time no child, young person or family will be turned away – everyone will receive a service from information, advice and guidance, or a therapeutic conversation to hand-holding to a relevant service. We are also proud of the transformational elements of the hub which will include volunteer parent carer Peer Support Workers who are an equal part of the team. This means that as a parent carer you can ‘phone up and speak to someone who has lived experience of a child/young person with emotional health and wellbeing needs. Future plans are to develop the role to include young people with lived experience.
“This is a service that Suffolk should be very proud of and marks a turning point for how services are developed. It has been a long and, at times, difficult journey which has required us all to re-evaluate the way we work and challenged us to trust each other. But the journey doesn’t stop here as we hope that our collaborative relationships will continue to transform and develop services that place children, young people and families at the very centre of what they do and which meet the needs of the population of Suffolk.”
The hub can be contacted Monday – Friday 8.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on 0345 600 2090 or by emailing [email protected]
The hub has been developed by young people and their families and organisations including NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, Suffolk Parent Carer Network, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Suffolk County Council.
Case study: Tim Smith and Lynn Harrison – Emotional Wellbeing Practitioners. Click on the link to read a case study about two of the five members of staff from NSFT who are putting their lifelong passion for mental health and many years of nursing experience into helping young people as part of this innovative new service.