A local talking therapies service, supporting those experiencing mental health difficulties in County Durham, has been recognised nationally for their innovative and inspiring work with young people.
Talking Changes, a joint venture between Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Mental Health Matters and Sunderland Counselling Services, were highly commended in the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) category of the recent “Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards”.
The annual awards, which celebrate the positive work NHS, social care and third sector organisations do to support those experiencing mental ill health, recognised the service for a pathway of care helping those in education to access timely support for conditions including anxiety and depression.
Working with local schools, colleges and universities, the service have successfully implemented a range of initiatives to help people aged 16 and over to access evidence based therapies at their place of education in the form of seminar style workshops and onsite clinics. A simplified referral process has also been introduced and education establishments have been allocated a designated therapist as a primary point of contact to improve accessibility.
A targeted marketing campaign is also raising awareness of the service among the student population.
Dominic Mossa, senior high intensity therapist and student pathway lead said: “Students experience unique stressors which can leave them vulnerable to mental health difficulties. Due to the transient living conditions associated with student life, there can be delays in people accessing the support they need and continuity of care can be impacted.
“The student pathway is helping to ensure targeted, flexible support is available to this hard to reach group, helping to make sure people receive the right support, in the right place at the right time, lessening the impact of mental ill health and supporting people in their recovery.
“We are pleased that this trailblazing work, thought to be the first of its kind within IAPT services, has been recognised at a national level and are committed to continuing to develop services to benefit the local student community.”