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New project aims to plug the gap in mental health services

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THE need for better mental health support for young people has been put firmly on the agenda during the pandemic and a new project aims to ensure no one misses out on help as they reach adulthood.

A year-long peer mentoring initiative was launched on Monday (6th December) and will see a team of staff and volunteers target and work with young adults at the key point when they move from child to adult mental health services.

It will also support those at increased risk of needing a mental health intervention – and young adults leaving care, who are vulnerable to developing a mental illness.

Coventry and Warwickshire Mind has been appointed by Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council to run the scheme and the funding has come from Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

It will provide one-to-one peer mentoring support, both face-to-face and virtually, looking to identify the right support for each person’s needs.

The move between child and adult mental health support services is widely recognised as a major change, with the risk some could fall through the gap between the two. Many young adults also fail to seek advice and support early enough, so the project will aim to help put people in touch with the right services at the right time.

The charity will have peer support workers, peer leaders and experts – somebody who has lived with a mental health problem.

One-to-one buddy mentors will guide and help young adults – encouraging and empowering them to set personal goals and make small but significant steps. This could include understanding early warning signs and symptoms of mental health difficulty; accessing information and following up on support; and building confidence to talk about their mental health.

Director of operations Alethea Balbuena said: “There are many young adults across Coventry and Warwickshire who would benefit from this support today.

“And our support will greatly reduce the likelihood of mental illness in the future and also improve the wellbeing of those young people and their families. The potential impact could be huge.”

Warwickshire county Cllr Margaret Bell, portfolio holder for health, said: “The project will be welcomed by many who will benefit from extra help at a critical time to ensure their mental health needs can continue to be met as they transfer from children to adult services.

“Importantly, young adults have been central to the project’s development and will be directly involved in delivery – helping one another to improve their mental health with packages of support.”

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