Children’s mental health service opens at A&E

Mental health

The new service will assist children at point of crisis 

13th November 2019 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Scotland’s first dedicated mental health service for children and young people at accident and emergency has been launched this month at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The partnership by 6VT Edinburgh City Youth Cafe and Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) – which has provided £116k of funding - aims to ensure that vulnerable children and young people get the help and support they need when in crisis.

Two youth workers, trained in supporting under 18s with a range of emotional, physical and social needs, will be based in the emergency department of the Royal Infirmary during peak incident times on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The service will help any child or young person presenting with self-harm, substance, domestic or physical abuse to make sure their rights and wishes are conveyed and hopes to be a vital first step in ensuring they can access the support they need.

Dot Horne, Director of 6VT, said: “We are incredibly grateful to ECHC for this funding without which we would not be able to provide this vital service for young people.

“Young people who come to the Emergency Department with complex and challenging issues such as self-harm, suicide attempts or substance misuse often don’t have existing links with other youth work services. In these situations, our service is a crucial link between the young person and relevant support agencies and we can then ensure they have appropriate follow up on leaving the hospital.”

It follows a pilot between 6VT and ECHC from May to October 2018, which helped to support 84 young people who presented at the Royal Infirmary Emergency Department with complex issues. It was successful in supporting these individuals with home visits, support to access sustainable youth services, phone calls and online support.

A 14-year-old who was admitted after attempting to harm themselves and supported during this time, said: “The youth workers are the main reason I am here today. They spoke with me that night and really listened. Because of them, I am on a new path in my life. If I had not met them that night in the hospital, I would not still be here today. I am hugely grateful to them.”

ECHC, which supports and complements the Royal Hospital for Sick Children as well as other healthcare settings, has provided the £116k funding to run this service for three years. The youth workers will initially be based at the Royal Infirmary and will then move to the Emergency Department of the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) when it opens next autumn.

Roslyn Neely, CEO of ECHC, added: “Children and young people experiencing mental health issues too often end up in A&E, so it is vital to ensure that they are given the right care and support during their time at the hospital and that this is then followed up once they have been discharged.

“The six-month pilot of this initiative had very positive outcomes, so we are pleased to be able to fund the development of such a valuable and worthwhile service which will transform the lives of young people. We believe that nothing should get in the way of being a child and we work to make sure children and young people’s lives are less interrupted by illness - either physical or mental.”

The hospital youth work service begins from 1 November and will run from 7pm-1am on Friday and Saturday nights.

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