Wolverhampton's young people are benefitting from an initiative to deal with their mental health needs early - before their symptoms worsen.
An Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme was introduced by Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust in 2009 and almost 400 16-25 year-olds have used an initiative to tackle common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
Bobbie Petford, IAPT's training lead, said: "The project was launched after the PCT's Healthy Minds team was asked to work in partnership with other local organisations to develop an IAPT service in Wolverhampton for young people who may otherwise find help hard to access.
"As part of the scheme, two psychological wellbeing practitioners were recruited and are based at Base 25's drop-in centre in Wheeler's Fold in Wolverhampton city centre. They offer a range of interventions for young people with mild to moderate mental health problems. The focus of their approach is guided self-help, and they use a variety of techniques based on cognitive behaviour theory (CBT) which is looking at the relationship between what we think, what we do, and how we feel."
Young people can refer themselves to the IAPT scheme, or they can be referred by their GP or another healthcare professional. Staff at Base 25 will also help them access the service.
"Typically, challenging life events might cause a young person to feel low and they might then drop out of school or college or stop going out with friends," explained Bobbie. "One of the interventions offered by the service might be to encourage them to be more active and re-engage with things.
"One of the practitioners will draw up a personal treatment plan and get the young person to decide what they want to do and what it is they want to change, and together they look at different ways of making that happen."
Ways of becoming more active could be as basic as a daily walk around the block, a stint of volunteering, or phoning a friend to go out for an evening. Or, if they have a specific problem such as housing, the practitioner will direct them to another professional who can help them.
"There are different ways of coping with problems such as anxiety or stress, so the key philosophy is to help young people to help themselves, and to treat problems when they are fairly minor to prevent them becoming worse."
Another important aspect of the programme is that if a young person is found to have a more serious mental health problem, they will receive higher intensity CBT therapy from another practitioner within the Healthy Minds team, or referred to the best agency to best help them.
For more details contact Base 25: 01902 572040 www.base25.org.uk or
Wolverhampton Healthy Minds: 01902 441859 / 441594
Wolverhampton Wellbeing website: www.wolverhamptonwellbeing.nhs.uk