Vulnerable teenage

Parents across the district have felt reassured since a safer space for children and young people, experiencing a mental health crisis, opened its doors a year ago.

The night-time mental health service provides vulnerable young people, needing urgent mental health crisis support, with a homely and welcoming overnight place to visit in emotional distress.  Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust works in partnership with Creative Support and Bradford Metropolitan District Council to provide the service in the local community that can be accessed through the Trust’s First Response service.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Creating a calm, safer space, where young people feel valued and listened to, the service has opened its doors to youngsters experiencing a range of crisis issues.  These include: anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, bereavement and eating disorders, which have often been triggered by factors such as: bullying, abuse, the pressure of school and exams or a family/relationship breakdown.  Once referred the safer space plays a vital role in identifying triggers early to emotional distress and crisis, and preventing future crisis from escalating. Young people in the local area, when they reach out for support, receive the right help, with kind and compassionate staff to avoid attendance to services like A&E.

The safer space comments book lists a series of positive feedback from those that have benefited from the service.

Following a breakdown of a family relationship, *Gemma, aged 14, valued having a safer space to go to when she was in emotional distress.  Gemma said: “It made a real difference having somewhere to go to, where I felt listened to.  Getting things off my chest allowed me to feel calmer, more relaxed and I was able to get a good night’s sleep.”

Gemma added: “I was made to feel welcome when I first walked in.  It’s a nice homely place and the staff asked me if I wanted something to eat or drink and if I wanted to watch TV or play on the Xbox.  They didn’t make me feel any different to living at home with my parents and they’re all really nice people. Thank you.”

Young carer, *Saima, aged 14, has been caring for her younger siblings and parents from a young age and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her caring responsibilities and had reached breaking point. According to The Children’s Society there are 166,000 young carers (under 18 years), like Saima, in the UK who are forced to grow up early and miss out on the same opportunities as other children because they care for family members with health conditions.

Commenting on the safer space, Saima said: “I used my time at  the safer space as a cooling off period where I had time to reflect and have some time for myself. It gave me an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I felt safe in homely surroundings and was able to destress. It was somewhere I knew I was going be alright and be able to sleep and eat well.”

The feedback is typical of the comments left from young people that have benefited from seeing staff at the centre, who have been ensuring young people in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, get the right care, in the right place, with the right health or social care professional, close to home.

The service is available seven days a week, 365 days a year. Young people in crisis, their families and health or care workers can ring the Care Trust’s First Response service, 01274 221181, for help from trained staff who can carry out a suitability assessment for referral to the service.  The safer space can also be accessed through the Trust’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health service.

Safer space is part of the Trust’s First Response service that also offers; Haven, a day-time adult mental health service, which is open from 10am-6pm, based at the Cellar Trust in Shipley; The Sanctuary, a night-time mental health service, which is open from 6pm-11pm, based at Mind in Bradford, all can be accessed through the Trust’s First Response 24-hour service.

Simon Long, Interim Deputy Director of Mental Health Acute and Community Services at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “The reaction to safer space has been really positive.  Since the launch of service, parents have fed back that knowing the service is available offering additional support has been extremely reassuring. Young people accessing the service are being given the coping skills needed to manage crisis more confidently in the future. We would like to thank everyone involved for their continued commitment to the service – and ensuring young people in crisis get the help they need.”

Safer space is one of three safer spaces for people experiencing mental health crisis, in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.  See video for more details:

*Names have been changed to protect identity.