‘Virtual’ teams and easier access could enhance adolescent services

Two strategies aimed at improving mental health services for
adolescents have been launched this week in conjunction with
Community Care‘s Changing Minds campaign.

The first comes from mental health charity YoungMinds, which claims
that adolescents’ mental health needs to be addressed urgently at
all levels via schools, information in colleges, clubs and pubs,
and by the provision of a focused specialist adolescent mental
health community service.

The strategy proposes a “virtual” team to assess and treat young
people between the ages of 16 and 25. This team would be made up of
interested adult and child psychiatrists in each area, together
with several other professionals including social workers.

As the professionals would also be part of child and adolescent
mental health services (CAMHS) and adult mental health services,
the young people would be able to move across the service
boundaries far easier than they do currently. The strategy proposes
an adolescent team co-ordinator to ensure that the virtual team
functioned effectively and processed referrals.

The strategy suggests that a specialist service needs to be
provided in an acceptable setting – such as a youth club or at home
– and not constrained by existing outpatient arrangements.

In addition, access to the service needs to be possible from a
range of places and professionals, while a broader range of
agencies should be able to commission services.

Meanwhile, Youth Access, the membership association for young
people’s information, advice, counselling and support services, has
published its own strategy, Breaking Down the Barriers,
which identifies eight immediate priorities.

It aims to make sure that young people can obtain counselling
services quickly and easily, wherever they live. Another key goal
would be to improve access to services for young people in rural
areas as well as those who are hard to reach.

Justin Rolph, the incoming chairperson of Youth Access, believes
there is “much urgency” and wants to see three areas addressed
quickly – access to developmentally and age-appropriate mental
health services, support for the expansion of young people’s
counselling services, and the national service frameworks for
mental health and for children to address the specific mental
health needs of 16-25 year olds.

– YoungMinds strategy from 020 7336 8445. Order forms for the Youth
Access strategy are obtainable from 020 8772 9900.

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