THIS week, NHS Trusts in North West London launched Best For You, a new patient-centred model of care to help the increasing numbers of young people requiring urgent mental health care.
Child and adolescent mental health is a growing public health crisis in the UK with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a steep rise in numbers of young people affected: 1 in 6 children and young people aged 5-16 are likely to have a mental health problem but only 25% receive the treatment they need.
Three NHS Trusts in London – Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and West London NHS Trust – have come together with the charity CW+ and other local and national partners to create a transformative new approach called Best For You. For the first time, specialist medical and mental health care will be combined and integrated with community services and digital tools to provide comprehensive, rapid and long-term care in a way that best meets the needs of the individual and their family.
The first phase of Best For You is the programme website: www.bestforyou.org.uk. This launched this week and has been fast-tracked to provide a much-needed and widely accessible online port of call for young people and families looking for mental health support.
The new website uniquely combines:
- A portfolio of innovative, clinically-assessed and age-appropriate digital aids including a library of safe and ORCHA accredited apps that have been rigorously vetted and tested
- Clinically-approved information about conditions, accessing services and support
- Crisis information including a dedicated text support service that is free, confidential and accessible 24/7
- Peer support that aims to connect with, and inspire young people to not feel afraid about seeking support with advice on how to find the help they need
Every element of Best For You – including the new digital platform – is being developed in collaboration with young people and their families:
- Day services will launch next year to provide a space for young people and their families to get immediate mental health support without needing an appointment including outpatient clinical care, therapies and family support. The day services will connect with the inpatient service and community services to ensure patient experience is not fragmented but instead joined-up and available long-term to support recovery and ongoing wellbeing.
- Community services will bridge the gap between the clinical and community setting. Innovative partnerships with the private sector, schools, community groups, crisis services and digital services will ensure comprehensive and personalised care is optimised and, critically, available for as long as required.
- A Young People’s Rapid Assessment Unit staffed by a multidisciplinary team will integrate, for the first time, medical care with mental health care to quickly and seamlessly assess, transfer and treat young people requiring help. Currently, the treatment of a young person in mental health crisis draws a line between physical and mental health assessment.
Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We are determined to improve mental health care for our children and young people. The NHS can’t do this alone. We have to do this in collaboration with young people and their families, and with our partners in the charitable and private sectors. Together, we can transform the way we treat the increasing numbers of young people requiring urgent mental health support.”
On an ongoing basis, young people and their families have been and will continue to be, involved in co-developing Best For You. The digital platform, which has been fast-tracked to help as many young people as possible in North West London and beyond, has been the focus of service-user engagement to date, garnered via youth groups, NHS young volunteer programmes, schools (pupils, parents and teachers) and other organisations such as Participation People.
Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive of West London NHS Trust said:
“The launch of the digital platform today is the first of many milestones for the Best For You programme. With young people increasingly turning to online resources to seek peer-to-peer support as well as expert guidance, we’ve engaged with young people to develop content that reassures, inspires and encourages others to seek help. By working with young people and their families and by bringing together NHS experts and our local and national partners, we hope we can continue to urgently transform how care is delivered to help more young people in crisis.”
Lesley Watts, Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:
“I am delighted we are officially launching Best For You today. It is a pioneering approach, centred around the needs of younger people and their families. Best For You is an innovative model of care that is easier and faster to access, offers joined-up and comprehensive care and I believe sets a new standard for children and younger people’s mental health in our area.”
The effectiveness of Best For You is being measured by Imperial College and North West London NIHR Applied Research (NIHR) Collaboration with a view to being able to test, template and share the new model across the NHS.
Aaron, who has been involved in Best For You since its inception, talks about why the new approach is so important for young people, he said:
“I didn’t know who to talk to or where to go for help when my mental health began to deteriorate. I was frightened and felt incredibly isolated and alone. At one point, I reached rock bottom and couldn’t see a way out. Thankfully, I found the right help and I’m now at university, something I never thought possible two years ago.
“Tragically, more and more young people need urgent mental health support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think we are dealing with a double pandemic and that calls for bold changes in the form of Best For You. Best For You would have made a huge difference in my life. I’m glad other young people will be able to access the help they need when they need it.”
If you are a young person, family member or friend, a clinician or carer, please visit: www.bestforyou.org.uk.