“Never turn anyone away”

Young people, sometimes fresh from A&E, turn up on Dr Simon Newitt’s doorstep. He runs Off the Record, a youth mental health charity in Bristol.

Five years ago the charity saw around 150 young people a year, these days it’s closer to 1,500, so there can be long waits for some kinds of support like counselling.

“There is so much unmet need – much of it is driven by wider social and economic inequalities – that those most in need of early help are also those least likely to seek it out,” says Newitt, who has worked in frontline mental health services for both the NHS and the voluntary and community sector for over ten years.

Off the Record is a self-referral service that offers counselling and therapy for children across Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Its ethos is: never turn anyone away.

Newitt says: “There is an increasingly large number of young people who need something more than light touch early intervention services like ours, but who don’t meet the criteria for more specialist services.

 “They bounce around in the gap between early intervention and specialist help, before maybe reaching a crisis point and ending up somewhere like A&E. They’ll get assessed at that point but they still won’t get ongoing support unless they are assessed as having a mental illness of some kind.”

Off the Record recently teamed up with its local NHS provider to work on a pilot project to try and fill these gaps. Newitt says, “Really it shouldn’t take admission to hospital before the right kind of support is available.”

Source: from here

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