Charity to do more for Sheffield's young people
Mental health problems in young people are increasing but what is being done about it in Sheffield?
The city's biggest charity specifically for young people with mental health issues, Sheffield Futures, is making great strides but admits there is a lot that still needs to be done.
Dan White, head of health and targeted services, believes this is particularly the case for individuals from black and ethnic minority (BME) groups.
It is something that he has recognised and is looking more closely at within his organisation.
He wants to become more aware of the demographics of service users and to find out whether there is a fair reach across the city.
Dan said: “There’s quite a lot that needs to be done so BME young people get fair representation and support, and that the services are designed in such a way that they are inclusive for those groups.
"I want to make sure that it is as inclusive as possible - equal opportunities.”
Sheffield Futures has big plans to expand with several new projects. These include Appolo, which supports young people leaving care to move into education, work and training. Another is Project 0114, which aims to tackle child criminal exploitation and associated gun and knife crime.
The charity has operated for many years and works closely with the council, schools and employers across the city.
It also teams up with other tenants in the Star House building, for example the Sheffield Youth Justice Service.
Service users at Sheffield Futures are primarily between 11 to 18 years old, but their Door 43 well-being service works with those up to 25 years of age.
At a recent talk Dan attended, it was highlighted that some BME users felt that they were not being adequately supported and they felt that they could not get the help they needed.
“A lot more could be done. There are a number of reasons why BME groups are not accessing services, some of it is cultural - in some communities there are some conditions that they do not accept as being an issue, which in itself is an issue,” Dan said.
For some young people, their parents don’t accept mental illness as a condition to be recognised so the support isn’t there.
Making sure organisations such as Sheffield Futures have an effective approach to helping those young people in particular, and ensuring that the services on offer are staffed appropriately is key.
Dan believes that involving those individuals at the centre is the best way of achieving this.
A recent Bridging the Gap round table discussion, with young individuals and local police officers proved effective.
Dan was able to follow the information that came out of the discussion appropriately, describing it as ‘an opportunity to react and respond in a positive and meaningful way’.
He said: “Over the years, what I always keep in my mind is that young people always evolve and grow, by natural order they’re all going to grow, but circumstances and the environment changes. How are we making sure that our services are growing and evolving with their needs?
"First of all, we need to listen - we need to listen to what communities want, what BME users need, to work with them in delivering services which are supportive to their conditions.”
Cultural differences are not the only barrier in mental health services for young people.
Transitional differences can also be a factor.
Traditionally, health services work with young people until the age of 16 or 17 but when you turn 18, you enter adult services.
Entering adult mental health services from services delivered for young people is a massive change, which can lead to further problems if not addressed properly, or at all.
Dan believes that health services need to support young people as they prepare for life and organisations need to work together to decide how they can best do that, taking into account the barriers that may be experienced by different groups.
Dan encourages individuals and organisations to call in for a chat, to present what they can offer to support the young people of the city - we can all learn from each other.
The people of Sheffield can also support Sheffield Futures through volunteering or by making a donation.
For more information about Sheffield Futures, see: https://www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/