Mental Health & Wellbeing Award

photo of the Winner MHWA

Southampton’s Child and Adolescent Mental Service (CAMHS) win Mental Health and Wellbeing Award for pioneering ‘Emotional First Aid’ course

Southampton Community Healthcare’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) was awarded the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award at a major regional NHS event yesterday (21 May 2009).

The service’s Emotional First Aid project was recognised at the South Central Health and Social Care Awards 2009 for its work in helping to spot the early signs of emotional distress in young people through problems such as eating disorders or self-harm.

The Emotional First Aid training course is the first of its kind in the UK and equips youth workers with the skills to help children manage mental distress before it becomes overwhelming and helps to make well-judged interventions which may prevent clinical illness later in life.

Dave Meehan, Joint Managing Director for Southampton Community Healthcare was delighted with the award win, saying: “I would like to thank our staff for their vision in producing the Emotional First Aid concept which has been recognised with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award. We are extremely proud of this award win and in involving young people in the design of the course and also of their involvement – their ability to share experiences was invaluable. An added benefit of the course is that it teaches people to train others and share their experiences. As such it is an extremely cost effective way of improving mental health awareness and developing capacity in the children’s workforce.”

Dave Meehan added: “The Emotional First Aid course is an original and successful method of tackling mental health problems in young people. I hope that this award win will capture the attention of other NHS organisations who may look to follow our lead and introduce similar courses as this project has been so successful. I would also like to add my congratulations to the Saucepans Team for being nominated for the Success in Partnership Working Award.”

Anne Bingham who is a student support officer at Southampton Solent University recently commented on the success of the Emotional First Aid project, saying: “I really did enjoy the course, it has changed the way I work on a daily basis. The richness and diversity of the course has also had an impact on the way I practice.”

Every participant in the project has rated it ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ and the project has created a change of attitude among professionals who have more confidence about approaching young people and addressing their problems.

The Emotional First Aid training course was devised by CAMHS and is now equipping youth workers with the skills to help children manage mental distress before it becomes overwhelming. Materials for the training course were developed from sessions with young volunteers who gave voice to experiences of mental illness in poetry, stories and art. Their activities were filmed for a DVD which is used during the course to stimulate discussion and debate.

Spotting the early signs of problems such as eating disorders and self-harm and making well-judged interventions are the key to preventing clinical illness later in life. Nationally it is estimated that about one in four young people will have a mental health, emotional or behavioural problem sometime in their life. This means that at anyone time in Southampton 4,600 young people will be in need of mental health help.

Southampton’s Saucepans North Central and CAMHS team were also nominated in the Success in Partnership Working Award category.

The winners of the South Central Health and Social Care Awards 2009 were announced yesterday evening at the regional awards ceremony hosted by South Central Strategic Health Authority at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.

Congratulating the winners Jim Easton, Chief Executive of South Central Strategic Health Authority said: “These awards encourage the development and adoption of innovative solutions to the challenges health and social care staff face in improving patient care on a daily basis. I am enormously impressed by the quality and range of projects I have seen this year. What excites me now is how we can embed these projects into every day practice across the whole region, helping to improve the care patients and service users receive and ensure that best practice becomes standard practice everywhere. “

“The people that have entered the awards all have one thing in common, the drive to improve the patient and user experience. These people dedicate their lives day in day out, to providing the public with the highest quality care and treatment. To me these are the people that represent what is great about health and social care, and these awards are about giving them the recognition they deserve.”

The winners of the regional awards will be put forward for consideration by a national judging panel chaired by David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS; the winners of which will be announced at a high profile event hosted by the Secretary of State in London in July 2009.

For more information please contact Matthew Butler, Press Officer, at NHS Southampton City on 023 8029 6930

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