New Year, same problems, new solutions: Best For You mental health approach to be critical for young people as Covid rages on

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on January 2nd 2022, 10:10am

Back in late November, CW+ launched Best For You, a new and transformative approach to child and adolescent mental health care that has been co-developed in partnership with three NHS Trusts in northwest London to help the rising numbers of young people that need urgent mental health support.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen child and adolescent mental health spiral into an even greater crisis, with one in six children and young people between the ages of five and 16 likely to suffer a mental health problem. Out of these, only 25 per cent are receiving the treatment they need.

With more Covid restrictions having been introduced in December to curb the spread of the Omicron variant and reports suggesting that even further measures are on the way, these mental health issues are only likely to intensify.

In order to try to curb the growing mental health crisis in Britain’s youngsters and ensure better outcomes for young people, CW+ and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, together with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and West London NHS Trust, has integrated specialist medical and mental health care with community services and digital tools for the first time.

This new scheme, which will be ramped up further this year, is to provide comprehensive, rapid and long-term care in a way that best meets the needs of the individual and their family.

More crucially, Best For You has been co-developed with children and adolescents to ensure the service appropriately meets the needs of young people and their families.

The programme website, the first phase of the scheme, has been fast-tracked to provide a much needed and widely accessible online port of call for young people and families looking for mental health support.

The new website uniquely combines the following aspects:

A portfolio of innovative, clinically assessed and age-appropriate digital aids including a library of safe and ORCHA accredited apps that have been rigorously vetted and tested.

Clinically approved information about conditions, accessing services and support.

Crisis information including a dedicated text support service that is free, confidential and accessible 24/7.

Peer support that aims to connect young people and inspire them to not feel afraid about seeking support with advice on how to find the help they need.

Every element of Best For You – including the digital platform – is being developed in collaboration with young people and their families:

Now that the New Year has come, day services will imminently be launched to provide a space for young people and their families to get immediate mental health support without needing an appointment, including outpatient clinical care, therapies and family support. The day services will connect with the inpatient service and community services to ensure patient experience is not fragmented but instead joined-up and available long-term to support recovery and ongoing wellbeing.

Community services will bridge the gap between the clinical and community setting. Innovative partnerships with the private sector, schools, community groups, crisis services and digital services will ensure comprehensive and personalised care is optimised and, critically, available for as long as required.

A Young People’s Rapid Assessment Unit staffed by a multidisciplinary team will integrate, for the first time, medical care with mental health care to quickly and seamlessly assess, transfer and treat young people requiring help. Currently, the treatment of a young person in mental health crisis draws a line between physical and mental health assessment.

Speaking back in November, Chris Chaney, Chief Executive of CW+ commented: “We are delighted to officially launch Best For You. It is a pioneering approach, centred around the needs of the young person.

“By working in collaboration with young people and their families, and with our local and national partners in the private, education, community and volunteering sectors, we hope to transform the way we treat the increasing numbers of young people requiring mental health support. We hope to set a new standard of care that can be rolled-out across the NHS.”

The effectiveness of the Best For You initiative is being measured by Imperial College and North West London Applied Research Collaboration with a view to being able to test, template and share the new model across the UK and beyond.

Photo by Matthew Ball on Unsplash

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
January 2nd 2022, 10:10am

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