Appeal launched to bring Headlight youth mental health programme into Sidmouth
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A group of Sid Valley organisations working to improve youth mental health provision are making a Christmas appeal to raise £10,000.
The money will help fund a programme called Headlight, which supports young people with mental health issues, and their families.
The Wellbeing and Health Action Team (WHAT) says currently the mental health services in the Sid Valley cannot meet the demand for help among people under 18.
Di Fuller, from WHAT, said those who are referred to the main NHS provision for young people, the Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are currently waiting months to be seen.
"This is too long for vulnerable children and young people to have to wait for the help they need," she said.
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She added that last year, Sid Valley Practice GPs referred 102 children and young people to CAMHS, but this does not reflect the total number needing help.
Mrs Fuller said: "This number does not include schools, youth club or self-referrals..
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"We think it is an under-estimate because GPs often refer people to private support if they can afford to pay.
"The schools often don't refer, or try to find other provision, because the wait is too long.
"Sidmouth College are aware of 18 young people who have self-harmed across all year groups since September 2018."
Mrs Fuller added that there are two school counsellors and a school nurse offering help with mental health problems, but both have waiting lists.
"Clearly there is not enough support to meet the needs of our local children," she said.
The Headlight programme has been up and running in Ottery St Mary for some time.
It offers a friendly, non-clinical service, with group and one-to-one support, advice for parents and carers, and signposting to other sources of help.
National funding has been acquired, but WHAT needs to match it with a further £10,000 before the programme can be delivered.
Mrs Fuller said: "We are seeking donations from a wide range of organisations and individual fundraisers from across the Sid Valley community to enable this project to be delivered for young people in the Sid Valley."
Anyone who can help the appeal is asked to contact Mrs Fuller via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or make a BACS payment to Sid Valley HELP, sort code 55-50-06, account number 5611 6985.