New strategy to help Sheffield children with mental health conditions

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A new strategy has been launched to combat the increasing prevalence of mental health conditions in Sheffield's children.

The strategy launched last week is aimed at front line practitioners to help them support young people at risk of suicide. It is part of a raft of new initiatives supporting children and young people in the city.

The plans include a better link between child and adolescent mental health services and schools, a one stop shop for advice and counselling service for young people up to the age of 25 and more support for teachers in the classroom.

Figures show around 7,000 Sheffield children between the ages of 5-15 years have a clinically recognisable mental health disorder. The figure is only expected to grow as diagnosis improves.

Becky, aged 20, from Sheffield is one of those who has helped develop the strategy. She has struggled with mental health in the past.

She said: "I always had suicidal feelings as I grew up. I never got any support to help me cope with these and ended up attempting suicide twice.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have experienced and that’s why I got involved with writing this suicide prevention strategy. Suicide is a scary thing to talk about but this strategy will help to make sure that children and young people’s needs are taken seriously.”

Sheffield Council’s own survey on mental health shows over a third of young people in Sheffield aged 14 and 15 years old have had feelings so bad that felt they couldn’t cope.

The local authority has been working with charities, hospitals and Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board to create the strategy to help reduce the risk of suicides and support young people to have good mental health.

Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said: “ We want to create an emotionally healthy and wealthy city and this strategy that builds on our healthy minds work will help us to achieve this.

“Young people have told me that having a safe place to talk and get help early, is a vital part of helping them overcome stress and preventing their problems from getting worse. Through this strategy we will ensure that the support is there for our children and young people to do this.”