Dedicated project for young people’s mind and body

Young people in Canterbury will now benefit from a dedicated pilot project aiming to give support and advice on self-harming behaviours.

KCA’s Young Persons’ Service has been awarded funding for the project, The Mind and Body Programme, after GPs in Canterbury highlighted the limited support that is available for young people around this issue.

Funded by Kent County Council and commissioned by Canterbury City Council, the programme will offer early intervention support to young people (with a focus on those aged 14-17) who are identified as being vulnerable to specified self-harm behaviours. This includes a wide range of behaviours including self-cutting, burning, picking, scratching, self-poisoning and self-strangulation.

The programme has been developed in consultation with young people, professionals from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and from experiences of KCA’s young persons’ practitioners when delivering enhanced early interventions on substance misuse and wider risk behaviours.  The young people can take part in 1:1s and group sessions to explore strategies to manage their emotions, promote positive communication with others, and ways to reduce other risk behaviours including drug and alcohol use, unplanned and unprotected sex and offending. It contains many of the evidence-based core components of the RisKit programme, which has been successfully delivered by KCA’s specialist early intervention workers for a number of years.

The programme will be run at three schools in the Canterbury district; Canterbury Academy, Herne Bay High and Simon Langton School for Girls. GPs can also refer young people to the programme, which is funded until March 2015.

Rick Bradley, Service Manager for South and East Kent, developed the programme. He said: “In the last year we have seen a significant increase in the number of young people who want to talk to our workers about self-harm issues. This specific programme gives us a great opportunity to support young people to make more positive life and behavioural choices on a whole range of issues, including self-harm and other risk taking behaviour. As local GPs have identified, there is a lack of self-harm support for young people, so this project should help with that.”

Graham Gibbens, KCC’s Cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “Among all of the formal responsibilities that Kent County Council has, it is particularly important that we provide and care for the health and wellbeing of young people. It has become clear that the Canterbury area will benefit from more support for young people who are self-harming and this pilot funding will be used to deliver and test the impact of an innovative programme that could potentially be adapted for use elsewhere in Kent. I look forward to finding out how this pilot service makes a difference to the lives of young people.”

Alison Small, Children and Youth Manager at Canterbury City Council, said: “It has been identified that there is a real need for this project in the Canterbury district. This pilot project will give young people access to early intervention, offering them help and support at the earliest opportunity, making a real difference to their lives.”

Parents and carers of young people can also attend a series of workshops, aimed to promote their own emotional wellbeing. These will be run by KCA’s Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and will offer practical tips on relaxation, how to manage stress, improving communication within family settings and how to be assertive when dealing with young people.

For more information on the Mind and Body Programme, contact Rick Bradley at the Young Persons’ Service in Canterbury on 01227 456744.

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