Hartlepool care bosses battling to ‘overcome stigmas’ and tackle mental health issues for young people

Coun Stephen Thomas
Coun Stephen Thomas

Care bosses have stated they are committed to working to ‘overcome stigmas’ and support young people with mental health issues.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee earlier this year ordered an investigation into the provision of mental health services for people in the area.

Care bosses from across four teams have provided feedback on work done so far in terms of caring for children and young people with mental health worries.

This has included a variety of work including providing support at the earliest possible stage for maternity services and working in schools.

Karen Hawkins, from Hartlepool and Stockton NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’ve got absolute commitment to work together as a system to make sure young people get the support they need.

“It’s not an easy ask and it won’t happen overnight, but we are absolutely committed to this.”

CCG bosses also said celebrities and popular sportsmen speaking out on the issues is increasing the number of young people talking about mental health.

A further example of good work highlighted in the area was a move for four-year-olds to visit elderly people at a care home.

Alongside working with maternity services, council bosses said a great amount of work is being done to support young people ins schools.

Jacqui Braithwaite, principal educational psychologist at the council, said: “We need to know how to grow in these circumstances, and there is more knowledge in schools as well now.

“People need to feel the confidence in the area.

“In schools sometimes there is what we call everyday magic, the little things they are doing which really support children.”

She also said school’s have a team of people looking to help and many schools have a ‘well-being champion’ to report to.

Schools have also signed up to online service ‘tootoot’ which gives young people a chance to speak to someone online if they do not feel comfortable approaching staff or family/friends.

The North Tees and Hartlepool  NHS Foundation Trust, and Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, also conducted investigations into work being done so far.

A report from Julie Parkes from the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said they are trying to reduce the stigma around mental health with routine enquiries and clear signposting for specialist support to aim for early intervention.

Coun Stephen Thomas, who has previously done work into the topic, said it is pleasing to see the efforts being made but noted there are difficulties.

He said: “One of the difficulties is the stigma around young people and mental health issues.

“For many young people it’s a really big thing, they don’t want others to find out they tried to contact support.

“It’s been chipped away at a little bit but there is still a lot of under-access.

“Some huge progress is being made but some real challenges are still out there.”

Coun John Tennant said: “It’s great to see a lot more work is being done to get in early.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service