Supporting our Children and Young People (CYP)

As lockdown came and with it the need to shut down the CYP building we listened to and consulted with young people as to how we could adapt our service to offer remote delivery.

Despite young people being those whose mental health has been most impacted by the pandemic, surprisingly few referrals came in at the start of lockdown, something that was also seen across our Manchester partner services. As we developed our remote service we increased promotion and the number of referrals began to increase.

Listening Ear was launched in response to the pandemic, supporting people from the age of 15 to address both the symptoms and causes of loneliness. Young people could then be referred into complementary emotional services e.g. Peer Support, Counselling and our Wellbeing Café.

Our staff counsellors began providing a service via phone and Zoom. Our volunteer counsellors were temporarily paused whilst they undertook training to enable them to deliver sessions remotely, we also ensured that safeguarding and consent were appropriately managed. Remote delivery was received well by most young people; however, some chose to wait until face-to-face counselling resumed, meaning they would have a longer waiting time.

In the autumn the number of counselling referrals significantly increased as young people returned to university and school, and referrers recognised that our waiting times were not as long as those in other organisations. This combined with a reduced capacity resulted in us having to make the difficult decision to temporarily close to new referrals.

Our advice workers developed and implemented ways of providing advice remotely for vulnerable young people and their families, with drop-ins and home visits no longer an option. Telephone appointments worked well for some young people who have social anxiety and most of our young people also appreciate WhatsApp for sending letters and medical evidence.

Peer Led Services used the pandemic as an opportunity to develop our virtual offer – something that not only fits our world right now – but an offer that will engage more young people in the long term. We piloted e-mentoring and launched the Virtual Wellbeing Café and Peer Support Groups. Although volunteering had to temporarily pause, young people started to gain an interest in volunteering again and those who previously wanted to wait until we were able to provide face-to-face opportunities, became interested in volunteering virtually.

We had the opportunity to launch two new services this year through emergency Covid-19 funding. A Resilience Project for young people age 18-24 who are not in education, training or employment and a Community Mental Health Practitioner offering one-to-one emotional support for young people age 15-18.
During this year, our Schools Mental Health Practitioners became part of Manchester Thrive in Education, which brought together Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and other local mental health charities to provide a collaborative approach to mental health support in schools. We now work in eight schools across Manchester providing psychosocial support to young people age 11-18. Remote delivery through school closures has been challenging, however both the young people and staff have identified the difference the support has made to students mental health and wellbeing.

This year has been challenging with the need to develop new ways of working and respond to increasing mental health issues such as loneliness, social anxiety and bereavement in young people, exacerbated by an unprecedented pandemic. There have, however, been some significant benefits from remote delivery and whilst we must not forget those who are digitally excluded we must take these benefits into a blended model of service delivery for next year.

“I’d been on medication for years for depression as it was made out to be the best option when diagnosed at 18. However, the real cure is exploring your issues through therapy. These sessions improved my emotional intelligence ten-fold and gave me the opportunity to be honest and open about my feelings… I am now off my medication. Manchester Mind counselling is an invaluable, life-changing service.” Young Person

Suzanne Holmes, CYP Service Manager