Staff in a further education school have called for more support services available to help improve mental health care amongst young people.

The Student Services team at Weymouth College was interviewed by Healthwatch Dorset about mental health care amongst students. . 

Staff identified the significant barriers faced by young people when trying to access vital support.

Head of Student Services at Weymouth College, Sue Drafter calls on the Children and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to “think outside the box” to engage more effectively with the young people they care for.

“CAMHS offer Tier 3 support and I appreciate that not every student will meet Tier 3 criteria, but there are instances when we feel that a particular student would more than meet Tier 3, and yet we’re unable to make that referral.

“There are other instances when a student has been offered CAMHS but perhaps has not fully engaged or they’ve not wished to engage previously and then they’re no longer able to access that service now.”

Safeguarding officer Kirsty Reid shared how students generally have a low opinion of outside support services. She stated that long wait times for referrals and consultations were a significant barrier to young people getting the support they need.

Dorset Echo: HELP: More young people are experiencing mental health problems

“Sometimes by the time the person receives an appointment with another service the issue has been resolved and it’s all sorted. That is all time wasted then.

“It would be really useful to have an early help central hub, that we could phone or go to online, and then be advised on what the student needs and where they should go to access support. “

Student Health Wellbeing Co Ordinator Nola Smith added how the lack of understanding and support for Tourette's syndrome makes it hard for young people to get a referral and diagnosis.

She also highlights how eating disorder referrals are not always taken seriously until crisis point, due to a lack of support and resources.

“The process of young people with Tourette’s getting support I find quite frustrating, and I don’t really know where to access help. I feel that locally one of the barriers is that we need to educate ourselves more and staff working in education need to understand better ways to manage that.

“I would really like a clearer pathway for someone with Tourette’s who is struggling. I can support them with the college, but who else can support them?! Externally, what agencies and support services can we refer to and? It’s the same with eating disorders. We need a defined pathway of support and some assurance of knowing that you are going to get that support.”

Healthwatch Dorset will use these findings to continue an ongoing conversation with NHS Dorset about how to improve mental health care for young people.

The full interviews can be found on Healthwatch Dorset's blog page: