Most referrals to Southwark Council’s mental health service for young people have come from young people themselves since its launch in May, writes Kit Heren…
The centre, called The Nest, is free and provides early intervention and preventative mental health support for young people in the borough. The service is funded by the council and run by local charity Groundwork London.
The Nest is part of Southwark’s pledge to provide all young people in the borough with mental health support, and young people who have used the service have spoken out about how much it helped them.
Like many people, Sophia, 14, whose name has been changed for anonymity, said she felt more isolated after lockdown began in March, and was referred for support by her father.
“I personally think that I had a super experience with The Nest,” Sophia said.
“They were so kind and helpful and I felt really understood. Without support from The Nest, things would still be the same at home. So I thank them for everything they have done for me.”
Jordan, 24, whose name has also been changed, said he got in touch with the Nest while he was waiting for a mental health diagnosis.
“I’m finding my one-to-one sessions with the wellbeing coach are going well so far,” he said.
“In my case, I’ve always just needed a comfortable space to vent about my traumas and figure out the causes to some of the emotions and anxiety I’ve been experiencing. I feel that this is what I’m getting through working with The Nest.”
The Nest was originally due to open fully in May, but this was delayed by coronavirus lockdown. Instead the centre launched as a remote service and has provided over 200 hours of phone and online support. The Rye Lane centre opened its doors for in-person sessions in August.
Cllr Jasmine Ali, deputy leader and cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “Access to mental health support has never been more important as we navigate this period of great stress and uncertainty, especially for our children and young people.
“Bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s devastating impact on mental health, they’ve had to adjust to hugely unsettling changes in their education or employment, routine and home life.
“All children and young people deserve to get mental health support when they need it, on demand, without waiting for a referral and we’ll accept nothing less for those in our borough.
“Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, The Nest has quickly established itself as a trusted and accessible source of mental health support for Southwark’s children and young people.
“It’s a credit to the fantastic team working at The Nest that so many young people feel confident to reach out for help when they need it most. We look forward to continuing our work with Groundwork to ensure the service reaches all who need support from The Nest.”