Mental health support services for young people in Sussex expanding in response to demand, chief medical officer says

The chief medical officer at the trust responsible for mental health services in our area has sought to offer reassurrance that help is available for young people facing a crisis.

Dr Rick Fraser from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust told this newspaper extra money had been secured and more staff were being recruited to deal with the demand for specialist mental health services in Sussex.

He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the way we live our lives, and on some people’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Children and young people have had to deal with uncertainty and upheaval at a formative point in their lives.

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“Issues like social isolation, school closures and exam uncertainty can be really difficult to deal with, and can trigger or increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

Dr Rick Fraser, Chief Medical Officer, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

“It’s really important we talk about the mental health impact of the pandemic. We need to look out for each other and talk to each other. This is particularly true of children and young people who may feel anxious about talking about how they are feeling.

“The pandemic has led to an increase in need for specialist mental health services across the country. We are seeing this increase here in Sussex and our staff are working incredibly hard to respond to this.

“We have secured £6.3 million in government investment which we are using to recruit more staff to assess and treat the children and young people who have been referred to our services. The funding will also help us to increase the number of teams working in schools, support children and young people with eating disorders and help us to focus our resources on prevention and early intervention work - so that we reach young people before they need specialist services.

“I want parents, carers and the young people themselves to know that we are doing all we can to put these changes in place as quickly as possible to respond to the immediate need.

“I also want to reassure people that our crisis service is seeing people with significant and urgent need very quickly.

“As a NHS specialist mental health service, we are part of a broad support system that offers help to children and young people at different stages of their need.

“These include schools, social care, public health, GPs and voluntary sector organisations and we are working closely with them to make sure families can access the help and advice available across the board.

“We are also doing as much as we can to let people know how to get help and who they can talk to.”

For a list of places you can find information and support, click here.