New mental health support service to launch for Suffolk’s children and young people

Dr John Hague is mental health lead for Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr John Hague is mental health lead for Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The creation of a dedicated mental health helpline for young people and their families in Suffolk has been hailed a “tremendous step forward”.

The new hub – one of the first of its kind in the country – is set to launch next week and will be the first port of call for people concerned for the wellbeing of anyone aged up to 25.

Specially-trained practitioners will run a telephone and email service providing support, guidance and referrals to other services when appropriate.

The emotional wellbeing hub has been developed by young people and their families, in partnership with Suffolk’s two NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), Suffolk Parent and Carer Network, and Suffolk County Council.

Dr John Hague, a GP in Ipswich and mental health lead for Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: “This is a tremendous step forward in how we respond to the emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of our young people, who deserve the very best start in life.

“So often, people just don’t know where to turn for help for a mental health issue. Seeking help can be daunting. Yet, early intervention is so important so that the young person can get the help and support they need as quickly as possible.

“Now, just one telephone call or email will open up access to health professionals and services that could make a real and positive difference.”

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Steve Bush, locality manager for children, families and young people’s services at NSFT, said the hub team would ensure young people were not “sent from pillar to post” for help.

Suffolk Parent Carer Network has been pushing for improvements to children and young people’s mental health services for years.

Co-chairwoman Anne Humphrys said the group was “proud” to have been part of the hub development, and would continue to monitor to make sure “it is doing what it set out to do”.

She added: “This is a service that Suffolk should be very proud of and marks a turning point for how services are developed.

“It has been a long and, at times, difficult journey which has required us all to re-evaluate the way we work and challenged us to trust each other.

“But the journey doesn’t stop here as we hope that our collaborative relationships will continue to transform and develop services that place children, young people and families at the very centre of what they do and which meet the needs of the population of Suffolk.”

Launching in Mental Health Awareness Week (May 14 to May 20), the hub will be available Monday-Friday, 8am to 7.30pm, on 0345 600 2090.

Referrals can also be made online.

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