Young people's wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do - and we are really good at helping them. Whether it is counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy or working with the family, we have a fantastic record in helping young people in distress to improve and maintain good mental health.
But some young people need support to be able to come and see us and take advantage of the skills and experience that make our team of therapists so great.
Just imagine - you are a young person feeling anxious and depressed. This could be because you have suffered abuse, you've been bullied, perhaps there is domestic violence in the family or just something scary has happened or gone wrong in your life. You might be self-harming, having troubles with eating and self-image. You may even be thinking about suicide.
Now imagine you have to travel to see someone who can help. You are feeling vulnerable and unsure of what will happen, but you know you need help and it's not too far. Someone in your family is happy to take you and you go and it helps. You start feeling stronger, more able to cope. So you go back and your confidence starts to return. You can trust this person, you can do this.
But what if just leaving your house is too scary for you - if the anxiety or depression you are experiencing is just too overwhelming? You might even find it hard to leave your room. Life is really scary. You know you need help, but there's no way you can get there. Each time someone tries to persuade you it feels like it gets worse, and now you feel even more of a failure because someone wants to help but you can't even get to them.
We want to use this money to help pay for a mentor, someone who is experienced in working in mental health but isn't necessarily as qualified as our counsellors. Someone who can visit you at home and help you to feel safe to get to the counsellor. Someone you know won't judge you, who understands that your feelings are real and you need help to cope with them. Someone to hold your hand and help you to believe that it will be ok, that you can do this and they'll be right there beside you.
Because without good mental health, nothing else falls into place - friendships and family life are tricky, going to school or college can be hard. Things can spiral out of control quickly and can impact on how you develop into adulthood and make the most of the opportunities life brings. It's central to everything - and getting the right help as early as possible can help you to recover and to maintain the kind of resilience which means you can cope with the challenges and bad times we all have to face sometimes.
We know what we do works because young people tell us that. Of course we do full evaluations so we can chart progress for every young person we see - and we get 1400 referrals every year just from Herefordshire. But the most valuable evidence we can give is what young people tell us in their anonymous feedback:
- I felt understood and safe to talk about whatever I wanted to talk about allowing me to feel better and understand my emotions.
- It's made me find better ways of coping with my problems rather than just locking myself away
- I can sleep for 8 hours now!
- I feel I can eat with other people around now
- I could talk about anything and was always listened to
So this project will help us to see more of the young people who need us and give confidence to those who feel they can't do it. We feel we owe it to young people to be there to help when they need us, and sometimes that means helping them to get to us for that help.