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Youth Mental Health Day

Teenage years. We’ve all been there. For some of us, it’s a time where we sometimes felt a ‘bit awkward’ but for many, it can feel all consuming, with euphoric highs and shattering lows.

The pandemic has affected us all in one way or other – but our charity partner Centrepoint is supporting many vulnerable young people with far more isolating issues on top of the perils of youth. The charity is there for homeless young people, no matter their circumstances, but the pandemic has made the route to youth homelessness much easier – and reaching vulnerable young people far harder.

With increasing numbers of young people finding themselves unable to stay with friends and family because of the risk of infection, Centrepoint saw calls to their Helpline hit an all-time high, rising by 50% and referrals rising by 40%.

And this took a toll on mental health. Many young people cope with mental health issues – around 30% have formal diagnoses, but the actual number of those suffering with poor mental health is much higher.

Social distancing and safety measures meant there was little or face-to-face mental health support available, so the charity used virtual support, supplying young people with technology enabling them to continue contact with their support network.

“Our work with young people now takes place through a variety of mediums, including WhatsApp, Skype, and phone calls,”  said Sue, Senior Health & Wellbeing Programme Manager. “We also produced a significant plan on these new ways of working that would still satisfy our ethical frameworks and professional guidelines.”

Mental health support is complex and nuanced; it requires dedication and concentration. But this is the power of Centrepoint’s health team – no matter how complex the mental health needs, they are able to provide the support needed for young people to regain control of their lives and move on from homelessness.

Support for substance abuse, therapy for trauma, and healthy relationships counselling are all key to helping young people move on from the cycle of homelessness. And this support requires funding.

In July this year, FirstPort reached a major funding milestone by raising £100K for the charity. The funding is helping Centrepoint to provide homeless young people with not only a safe place to stay, but also specialist health support and access to education, training and employment programmes that will ultimately enable vulnerable young people to move on to live independently.

Ramona* suffers with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder and was sectioned when she was just 11. Her disorder, then undiagnosed, made her vulnerable and she ended up in an abusive relationship at 15. It wasn’t until she was arrested for getting involved in county lines (which offered her a level of protection from her ex) that she was able to receive a formal diagnosis.

“It’s taken me a long time to get here where I am now. The person I was three years ago was really ill. When I was younger, everyone just used to say that I was faking it. But it turns out that I really did need support.”

Luckily, along with her local authority, Centrepoint was able to step in and help Ramona, who went on to go to college and study for her Medical Sciences BTEC.

Centrepoint wants to help turn things around for more people like Ramona – to provide more long-term support for those with complex needs and extend their help to those who are most out of our reach right now by utilising more virtual support services. This way, they can ensure that young people go on to live independent, and perhaps most importantly, happy lives.

For more information on Centrepoint’s work, or how you can help support the charity, please click here.

*Names have been changed