The sea of challenge in mental health
Children and young people’s services make up less than 7% of the overall NHS budget, with cuts in local authority provision, we are starting to see services that help children and young people disappear across towns and cities in the UK.
With depression and anxiety related illnesses on the rise it is worrying the impact on our children and young people, as they grow up in a world that has become increasingly isolated, body image conscious and lacking the relevant help and support that is desperately needed.
In terms of prevention and early intervention and directing children & young people away from entering adult services in the future. Investing in children and young peoples mental health makes absolute sense, to enable children who are experiencing emotional distress to access help and support early on.
Last week, Instagram started to proactively search for hashtags related to self-harm and suicide in an attempt to address mental health concerns across the platform. Designed to show people they are surrounded by a community that cares, at a time when you may need it the most, by sending a message to users that signposts them to get help or engage in services.
These kinds of online initiatives are often criticised for missing human touch, but perhaps the accessibility of social media or online help programmes trump the lack of human contact, as people are able to access help and support anytime of the day or night in the privacy of their own home, when needed.
Priorities of a Champion Combatting Emotional Cancer
Recently, I have been part of a team implementing a crisis service for children and young people in emotional distress, as a diversion from emergency departments and police custody. The emphasis being on improving the experience of children & young people and their families to access help during a crisis.
When you are depressed or feeling isolated I do understand the concerns around having less human contact, as it is not the most desirable. But, as demand increases and the workforce decreases, the pressure is on financially and there will be an increased need for more affordable and accessible alternatives.
91% of the population carry mobile phones and we are spending an average of 90 minutes per day on our mobile phones, for millennials these statistics are even higher, it makes sense to provide support to people in an easy and convenient way that suits them.
Instead of a one-size fits all model trying to meet all needs, it is time to start to respond to a more tailored, individual model and provide services that can really make a difference when people need it the most.
Perhaps, the solution is not an either or scenario but a mixture of online, face to face and telephone support to address mental health that is accessible depending on the stage of your journey.
I recognise the challenges of such a complex system we exist in and the lack of healthcare provision across the globe, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and we all need to start somewhere.
I have an aspiration to improve emotional wellbeing globally and in the next year I will be working on projects to impact suicide rates, in men age 30-44, by making help and support more accessible when they need it. Changing the way children and young people use mental health services to improve early intervention. And helping people across the globe to access affordable experts for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses.