Maintaining our mental health

Children Mental Health

There is increasing awareness of the need to maintain our own health; messages encouraging us to eat ‘5 a day’ exercise regularly and stay well hydrated, are familiar, simple to communicate and easy to understand.

What is less tangible is the process of both maintaining our mental health, the ways in which mental illness really presents and how best to treat such conditions.

What is not fully acknowledged is the fact that physical illness impacts on mental health and wellbeing, and that mental illness can impair a person’s ability both to maintain their physical health, and to access care for physical health needs.

We are all aware of the current economic climate, and the fact that difficult decisions are constantly made about which services to keep and how other services can be streamlined.

On a positive note, services are increasingly developed and improved by partnership working between service users, service providers and key stakeholders. This has led to acknowledgement of the need for community based care, and for services to be integrated. If a young adult has chronic asthma and significant difficulties with anxiety then it is reasonable for them to expect that they can attend appointments for both conditions in the same place and possibly on the same day, and that with their consent service providers will communicate with each other and work collaboratively. Similarly, if the young person with asthma experiences a deterioration in their breathing through smoking, and the clinician starts to see signs of undiagnosed ADHD, then the young person is more likely to engage in a mental health assessment in a familiar venue.

Thus the case for ‘one stop shops’ that will offer comprehensive care is clear. What is also increasingly recognised is the fact that young people want to access the same services whether they are 17, 18 or 20. It is widely acknowledged that 18 year olds often still have a lot of ‘growing up’ to do. When we are able to offer services to vulnerable young people that are truly ‘barrier free’ regardless of whether they primarily affect physical or mental health, and services that they can access throughout college and in the first sensitive months of a first job or apprenticeship, while they transition from family life to their first flat or from being looked after children to being care leavers. Then we will truly be making steps to ensure that the excellent public health messages about wellbeing and health are accompanied by responsive services that are easily accessible when health problems occur.

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is committed to providing flexible and accessible services to all children and young people within Manchester and Salford. Adolescents are able to be seen in settings of their choice, for example colleges and their local general practices. Furthermore, there are outreach services for vulnerable young people such as young offenders. Finally, CMFT is proud to offer a wide range of services, for example services with specialist skills in working with children with learning disabilities or children who are looked after.