Published on
15 May 2019

New service to tackle growing mental health demand

A £500,000 service to support the growing number of children and young people needing mental health support is being launched by Barnardo’s Cymru.

Young people themselves have been involved every step of the way in developing Golau, a National Lottery Community Fund-financed project which will help 240 eight to 18-year-olds across Anglesey during the next three years.

Golau will provide one to one support for those struggling with a wide range of issues including bereavement, self-harm, depression, social isolation, bullying and family breakdown while also working with their families. The aim is to intervene early so children don’t develop more serious mental health issues.

Barnardo’s Cymru questioned 300 primary and secondary school pupils about their emotional health and wellbeing before designing the new, bilingual service. More than a third of secondary pupils had needed to seek help, a third of those for self-esteem issues, 19% over mental health, 18% for family issues and 13% over bullying. Bullying was the main worry among primary pupils.

The charity then involved teenagers from the influencing group Llais Ni in making the service child friendly. The group thought up the name, which means Light, designed the meeting rooms with soothing colours, cushions and toys, created information leaflets and were even involved in the interview process for three staff.

One said: “I was happy leaving tonight’s session knowing I had made a difference.”

Children and young people will be able to self-refer or be referred by professionals. They will receive 12 weeks of one-to-one support to help them build resilience and develop coping strategies while their parents will be able to develop the skills they need to support their children.

Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s Cymru, said the project was a response to a major gap in provision for young people who don’t qualify for statutory mental health services but are struggling to cope, often suffering from anxiety and depression.

She said: “There has been a significant increase in the number of children in need of mental health support and many are not getting the help they need.

“Barnardo’s Cymru have recognised this ‘missing middle’, a gap in provision for young people and we have made emotional and mental wellbeing one of our priorities . This funding will allow us to provide one to one support for those at risk of developing far more serious mental health issues, ensuring better outcomes for the future.”

Professionals have confirmed the urgent need for such a service due to growing demand in all schools. They also reported a lack of interventions, a rise in self-harm, insufficient support for children with challenging behaviour and limited help for those who have experienced trauma, child sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Lyn Owen-Hughes, Barnardo’s Cymru’s Children’s  Service Manager, said:

“It is important that as a service we listen to young people as this will determine the success of the service with positive outcomes achieved by all.”