YORKSHIRE teenagers with mental health problems are among the most vulnerable as under pressure services try to cope with a system that is inadequately resourced and lacks capacity.
The number of young people aged between 5 and 16 needing treatment for mental health issues has continued to grow yet capacity has not met demand and the Government has admitted that the service is too fragmented.
Many young people face journeys in excess of 100 miles for treatment and in Yorkshire and The Humber there is a lack of suitable beds for the ten per cent of the youth population presenting with mental health issues.
The Chief Executive of a leading care provider said that there were successful alternatives to hospitalization and it was time there was a radical approach to the care of mental health patients, to stem the tide of vulnerable people becoming more seriously ill as a result of their treatment.
Dorothy Jarvis Lee is CEO of ubu in Harrogate; she urged policy makers and commissioners to look more closely at alternatives to hospital treatment, that would enable young people, in particular, to remain within their own communities receiving personalized treatment that helped improve their conditions.
“Our uStep support model has proved highly effective with the people we have been privileged to serve for over the last 30 years, ” she said.
“We place the people we serve firmly in control of their own lives, so they can achieve independent lives which are integrated within the communities they live in, or want to live in.
“They can remain close to family, friends and other things which are familiar and comforting to them whilst helping them develop as individuals. Even the most complex individuals have improved as a result of being at the heart of their community,” she added.
Dorothy Jarvis-Lee was also at pains to point out that the model delivered a value premium for society.
“Our consumers may begin needing a lot of intensive support for example four enablers per person, but within weeks, we have been able to reduce that and continue to do so as the person we serve improves incrementally.
“Young people, particularly teenagers are vulnerable because their lives, bodies and emotions are changing and developing so rapidly. It is even more difficult today because the nuclear family that once provided a safety blanket, often doesn’t exist.
“We have just opened another new uStep Support Model in the North West and one of the first people to serve there is a young woman who has just left hospital.
“Already her confidence and well being have improved for knowing she is working towards greater independence. Over time she will need less support, so the cost incurred by society will reduce.
“Norman Lamb visited one of our uStep supports in Leeds in March and has spoken about how impressed he was. He recognizes the value to the people we serve and also society, it is time that more policy makers, like him, visited us to see how effective we could be at tackling real health issues and benefitting society.”