Support For Us, lead by Sam Barakat, is a campaign to change the way mental health support is available for young people across the UK. Support provided by schools, charities and CAMHS needs to be accessible and confidential for young people. Sadly, for many, this is not the case at the moment. 

This campaign is looking at 3 key issues: confidentiality, accessibility and awareness.

Confidentiality

When a young person opens up about their mental health, their rights to confidentiality should be respected, provided there is no risk. Breaking confidentiality can both lose the young persons trust in the services provided, but also can in some situations put themselves in more danger.

Many schools and charities provide mental health support for young people. The issue is, many of these services require parental consent/knowledge for young people (whether under 16 or 16-18) to access the service. This rule is in place regardless of whether there is deemed to be any risk deemed. This can lead to young people not seeking the help they require and/or not trusting the services.
Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, and many viewing mental illness as either a ‘weakness’ or something you just ‘get over’, parents may not consent to their child accessing services. One example of this is a young person, Sarah (not her real name) who wanted support for her mental health, and her school wanted to make a CAMHS referral for Sarah. Due to her parents not consenting, Sarah had to wait until they were 16 until the school could make a referral.  This should not be the case, and it should be that all young people can access support.

This campaign is looking at the confidentiality of CAMHS, but also other support services including charities and within schools. Current barriers include:

  • Some services insisting on parent’s being informed and/or involved
  • Services clashing with school, with no option to leave school without parental consent
  • The administrative process, including referral sent in the post and the need for a GP referral

Where parents are involved in their child’s care, young people have stated that their confidentiality has been broken which lessens their trust in the services.

Accessibility

Many services aren’t designed in a way that’s easy for young people to access. These include the location of appointments, with young people having to travel miles and some young people having limited/no modes of transport to get from where they live to their local CAMHS. Services should be accessible to all young people, including:

  • Offering CAMHS within schools, which currently is in place in many schools
  • Having services in locations which are easy to get to from all parts of the areas served by the NHS Trust

Awareness

Many young people are not taught about mental health, mental illness and what support is available. Support For Us will be developing materials for young people and delivering sessions in schools so that everyone can know about mental health, what help is available and how they can access support in their area.

For this to work, Support For Us is looking to make connections with schools and different CAMHS trusts. More information on this will be available in forthcoming months. If you work in a school, local CAMHS, or charity providing mental health support and would like more information please fill out this form or email info@supportforus.co.uk