The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

YMCA Norfolk service set to save NHS over £1m 

YMCA Norfolk’s Wellbeing Matters service has saved the NHS an estimated £565,796 so far this year through not having to refer a single young person to CAMHS after engaging with the charity’s therapeutic staff team.

By the end of March 2023, the service is set to support 500 young people in a mental health crisis, potentially doubling the vital relief supplied to CAMHS in Norfolk to a value of over £1 million in specialist referrals alone.

Wellbeing Matters was established in 2021 as a vital youth mental health service with the aim of tackling the county’s mental health crisis among children and young people.

In the last year alone, none of the 242 young people referred to the Wellbeing Matters service have required further referral to the Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which costs the NHS an average of £2,338 per referral (Source: Children’s Commissioner briefing).

The reduction in referrals attributed to the Wellbeing Matters service has alleviated waiting times for NHS services across Norfolk, the county with the second highest spend per child for mental health in the country as of 2022 (Source: Children’s Commissioner briefing).

The range of therapeutic services offered have been praised by parents to have “truly made a difference” to their children, as the team continue to build relationships with schools and mental health providers across Norfolk.

The therapeutic staff approach the service with a holistic view, taking into account every aspect of a young person’s wellbeing; school, home, family relationships, friendships and beyond – to fully understand what it is that is impacting their mental wellbeing.

Esther, project lead within YMCA Norfolk for Wellbeing Matters, said: “I think the way in which we approach our delivery is one of the many reasons for the service’s success. We have worked in a person-centred, therapeutic way to engage our young people in a safe and empathic relationship which focuses on providing sessions where above all they feel comfortable to talk, whether it be outside on a positive activity, in school or at home.

“Being flexible in our approach means that we are allowing the young person to develop their sense of self and become aware of what they need, which is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of each young person and child we work with.”

A combination of the pandemic’s increased demand on all health services and cuts in government funding have left the largest disparity between waiting lists and the demand for mental health services in recent years (source: Local Government Association and the Children’s Commissioner).

As reported by the Local Government Association, 75% of young people experiencing a mental health problem are currently forced to wait so long that their condition worsens or are unable to access any services at all.

Issy White, an NHS Specialist Community Public Health Nurse for South Norfolk, said: “It is no secret that the NHS is currently struggling beyond belief to meet the extreme level of need for mental health support, despite the best efforts of healthcare professionals. This need is due to an array of reasons, but most notably a lack of funding for mental health services.”

Issy believes that charities such as YMCA Norfolk help to bridge the gap between young people in crisis and GP wait lists, providing ‘an extremely valuable and responsible service.’

She added: “Teams such as YMCA Norfolk’s Wellbeing Matters service are working tirelessly to support young people develop the skills and resilience they need to go on to reach their full potential in life.
“I am personally so grateful that charities such as YMCA Norfolk exist to help fight the mental health crisis and to reassure young people that they do not have to suffer in silence.”

Mark Deveney of the South Norfolk and Broadland Councils, who was part of the Wellbeing Matters commissioning process, said: “The service is impressive in terms of their capacity to accept referrals, the speed of response and the adaptability of intervention to deliver a genuinely holistic service to young people tailored to their needs.

“Feedback from referring professionals in the Help Hub, schools and colleges and parents has been unfailingly positive. Children and young people have clearly benefited from engagement with the service and lives have been changed through the work undertaken.

“I would have no hesitation in recommending this service to any prospective commissioner.”

Pictured are some of the YMCA Norfolk Wellbeing Matters team.


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