A new London-wide mental health campaign aimed at ensuring children and young people receive the support they need before reaching breaking point has launched.
The Open Your Mind initiative comes in response to recent figures indicating a 50% rise in the number of young people urgently needing mental health support over the course of the last three years.
Backed by local residents and health professionals, the project centres around making sure young people are aware of the support available to them at the earliest possible stage and hopefully avoiding the worst possible scenarios
Excluding A&E, the support available to young people includes NHS mental health crisis lines, counselling, and digital text support.
Leon Wehncke, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist from North East London Mental Health Foundation Trust, said: “Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a stark rise in the number of children and young people attending emergency departments suffering from mental health crises.
“While social restrictions have been lifted, the repercussions are still felt by countless children and young people, which is why it is paramount to improve mental health communications so that no young person feels as though they are suffering alone.
“The primary challenge that young people at risk of suffering from mental ill-health face is that they are unaware of the range of services and resources that are available to them.
“The resources signposted through the #OpenYourMind campaign are of a high clinical standard to support young people and their guardians to manage their mental health.”
Hannah, 22, from Barnet, talks about how the campaign would’ve been very beneficial to her, when she was going through her own mental health issues at just 14-years-old.
She said: “I felt very alone for a long time and a campaign like this would have really helped me to know what my options were. Knowing that there was help out there would have made a big difference to making my own situation less lonely.
“My mum is really supportive and I was able to talk to her about what was happening, but there was a fair bit of time between when I first brought up with her how I was feeling and the point when I was referred to hospital.
“During that time, it would have been good to have known about services like SHOUT for example. I have always struggled to speak over the phone to people I don’t know and being aware of a digital text support service like that would have been great”.
In addition to the aforementioned mental health services, the Open Your Mind campaign also shares tips and advice on how to start your conversation about mental health, encouraging clearer lines of communication between young people and trusted adults, with the aim of normalising the topic and highlighting just how important it is for everyone to care for their own mental wellbeing.
The campaign is set to run over several months across London and is being run by Cavendish Square Group, who represent the 10 London NHS Mental Health Trusts.
David Bradley, Chair of Cavendish Square Group, said: “We are working hard to promote where and how young people, their families or carers can access early support and advice. It is important that people are supported early on, understand the options available to them and how to access these – so that they don’t have to attend Emergency Departments in a crisis.
“As of today, children and young people who are experiencing mental ill health, or a mental health crisis, as well as parents and carers, can now easily access expert advice and support by visiting openyourmind.support.
“Early intervention and prevention is a priority and working together to provide the right information and signposting will help us to provide more effective care, designed to meet the needs of our communities.”
More information on the campaign is available here.