The Digital Support initiative involves mental health practitioners from existing GM services, being seconded to children and young people's mental health charity, 42nd Street.
Since October 2019, 42nd Street has been delivering one-to-one counselling and psychosocial therapeutic interventions through a co-created and secure online platform for 13-25 year olds. Originally launched in Salford, this service has been opened up to young people across GM during the pandemic, and saw a 320% surge in demand from March-September, and a 220% increase in one-to-one registrations. Demand had outstripped capacity and waiting times steadily increased, reaching an average of 84 days in February 2021.
Mental health practitioners from existing services are being trained by 42nd Street in delivering online support via their platform, and instructed in the associated safeguarding and information governance. These practitioners will then work remotely to support young people.
Organisations that release staff for the project are receiving back-pay to cover the costs. GMCVO is providing a project management and oversight function for this work, drawing up Service Level Agreements and serving as a signatory for invoices and payments.
Digital Support will reduce waiting times and build the capacity of the Children and Young People (CYP) VCSE workforce around digital therapeutic support, strengthening best practice and processes for the future.
Increasing the delivery capacity of online support will aid those young people experiencing barriers to physical service access due to disability, financial barriers and cultural and social expectations relating to perceptions of, or stigma associated with mental health.