England and Wales urged to prioritise mental health support for care experienced people
Did you know that children in care are four times more likely to experience mental health issues than their peers?
As the leading disability charity in the North West, the Together Trust is passionate about providing support, care and a hopeful future to people with health needs and learning disabilities. We are also proud to support external projects, addressing a positive approach to individuals suffering from mental health issues and lacking the necessary aftercare support.
Launched last week, the campaign 'Looked After Minds' by The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) is an urgent wake-up call for the government to prioritise mental health support among both children in care and care leavers. According to the campaign report, care experienced children's risk to attempt suicide when they become adults is four to five times higher than their peers. The NYAS's initiative identifies four crucial areas for mental health care improvement - advocacy, entering adulthood, responding to trauma and ensuring positive childhood experiences. An affected young individual admitted to NYAS:
“When I hit 18, all support stopped. Suddenly I was being signposted from pillar to post but everyone seemed to be palming me off. Nobody wanted to put the time in to help me. I feel like you need more stepping stones before everything just falls away.”
This is only one example of the 65% of post-care adults who have mental health needs which are not met or receiving statutory medical care. Hence why we need to urge the government to take action on tackling mental health-related problems and establish a better plan on providing appropriate treatments for those suffering from traumatic experiences. Another soon-to-be care leaver reports:
“I turn 18 in a few months’ time but after meeting with doctors I was told I wouldn’t get any therapy from adult services and I’d be on a waiting list for at least a year. They couldn’t say how many meetings they could offer in the community, and I’ve still not met my care co-ordinator. They still haven’t said what they are going to offer when I am discharged. I feel completely numb and overwhelmed, hopeless to be honest.”
Ben Twomey, NYAS Head of policy and research, declares that the campaign “gives a platform to the voices and experiences of the children and young people we work with”, aiming to enhance mental health services and policies regarding care experienced children and vulnerable adults within England and Wales.
Likewise, we at the Together Trust, strive to put the people we support and their voice at the heart of what we do. We recognise the significance of creating a healthy, supportive and nurturing community, enabling vulnerable and disabled young people to unfold their full potential and feel safe and valued. Our Service director, Jill Sheldrake, shares:
“Having worked across many residential and family support services for the Together Trust, I know all too well how important it is to offer support, guidance and have belief in our looked after children. Doing this will equip them with the skills and confidence so they can fulfill their own potential. However, the challenges that looked after children face is something I believe society, as a whole, needs to combat. For many young people, 18 is just too young to leave care. All care leavers should be supported throughout their transition from leaving care into adulthood.”