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NHS Launches Volunteering Programme for for Young People with Mental Health Issues

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Best For You is the new, transformative approach to mental health care from the NHS launched at the end of last year in response to the rocketing rates of young people experiencing mental health issues.

The new volunteering programme launches today and is the second phase of the transformative Best For You initiative to launch in as many months. The NHS Trusts behind this innovative, new approach is fast-tracking all of the different elements as quickly as possible to help as many young people as possible.

Digital interventions

The first phase of the NHS Best For You programme was the launch of its digital platform last year, which uniquely combines:

  • Clinically-assessed and age-appropriate digital aids and apps
  • Crisis information includes a dedicated text support service that is free, confidential and accessible 24/7 – just text NATTER to 85258
  • Information about conditions, accessing services and support 
  • Peer support aims to connect with and inspire young people not to feel afraid about seeking support with advice on how to find the help they need

Volunteering programme

The volunteering programme is the next phase to launch and has, importantly, been co-designed with young people in response to them telling us that mental health services can feel lonely and want support from people they can relate to. 

The volunteering programme initially comprises 10 digital volunteers aged 2029 years old, intending to quickly expand the numbers of volunteers and how they support the programme.

The Best For You digital volunteers have been trained to:

  • Coach patients on the digital tools and apps available to them with the aim of driving a deeper understanding of how they work and, in turn, encourage more regular use
  • Swiftly and effectively resolve any issues or questions
  • Check-in on their progress regularly and help to keep them engaged
  • Collate and feedback comments from users so ongoing improvements can be made to the service, improving the experience for themselves and other patients
  • Support the family and friends of patients so they, in turn, can help their loved one

The digital platform and the volunteering programme are just two parts of the Best For You programme that also include the below, which will be launching this year, to provide integrated, comprehensive and long-term care:

Day services

Provide a space for young people and their families to get immediate mental health support without needing an appointment, including outpatient clinical care, therapies and family support. The day services will connect with inpatient and community services to ensure the patient experience is not fragmented but instead joined-up and available long-term to support recovery and ongoing well-being.

Community partnerships

Bridge the gap between the clinical and community setting. Innovative partnerships with the private sector, schools, community groups, crisis services and digital services will ensure comprehensive and personalised care is optimised and, critically, available for as long as required.

Young people’s rapid assessment unit 

Staffed by a multidisciplinary team will integrate, for the first time, medical care with mental health care to quickly and seamlessly assess, transfer and treat young people requiring help. Currently, the treatment of a young person in mental health crisis draws a line between physical and mental health assessment.

Martyna Stasiak, one of the Best For You volunteers, says: ‘I know from experience that young people are facing another kind of pandemic at the moment. Not only are we trying to navigate Covid, but we’re also dealing with increased feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and so much more.’

‘I applied to volunteer as part of Best For You not only because I can relate to some of these experiences and want to help young people in need, but I also recognise the benefits volunteering has for me too. I experienced social anxiety due to the first lockdown, and so working with others via the volunteering programme is helping me manage my mental health too.’

Tina Fletcher, Best For You Volunteering manager, explains: ‘Volunteering is a fulfilling way to help others and has been proven to impart as many health benefits on the volunteer as well as the people they are helping.’

‘The top benefits include: building self-esteem; reducing stress; creating a sense of purpose; helping to learn new skills; and it can also help people trying to get back into the workplace after a break in your career. If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering or are looking for more information on mental health, visit here.’ 

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