Wisbech councillor wins the day as motion to provide better mental health care for county's under 25s wins unanimous support
Mental health services for young people in Cambridgeshire are "in crisis" councillors were told as they discussed the issue at today's full council meeting.
Wisbech county councillor Sam Hoy described Cambridgeshire as being one of the bottom five counties for funding of young people’s mental health services pointing out it also had lengthy waiting lists for help.
She was therefore delighted after her motion calling for better mental health provision for young people in Cambridgeshire was unanimously approved.
Councillor Hoy in outlining her deep concerns about the lack of provision and poor funding for mental health services for the county's young people said she had heard too many horrific stories to "just sit back and do nothing".
Her motion called for the opening of new young persons' mental health hubs across Cambridgeshire.
And her call hit a chord with her fellow councillors who gave their full backing to the motion, which will now see the authority’s chief executive work with local health chiefs to open up hubs in all districts including here in Fenland.
The motion also called for the chief executive to write to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group to “urgently increase its proportion of spend on young people’s mental health” and work with the CCG to open a hub in each part of the county.
It also called on the council to push the Government for funding for the hubs, and to produce a guide to mental health and wellbeing support available to young people in their area.
Speaking after the motion was approved, Councillor Hoy said: “We are one of the bottom five counties for funding of young people’s mental health services, while sadly waiting lists remain very high.
“I have heard too many awful stories of young people in crisis to sit back and do nothing. And as I made clear during the meeting this is a non-political issue, so I would like to thank councillors from all parties for supporting this motion. It is now time for action, and I hope today is the first step in making sure young people get the full support they deserve."
While full of praise for the “great work being done” by local professionals, Councillor Hoy highlighted “heartbreaking” stories of children suffering from mental health crises, which she had heard from residents.
She also pointed out issues of long waiting lists, a shortage of some services and “new challenges never faced before” due to the pandemic adding that a lack funding for young people’s mental health was also a problem.
Councillor Hoy's motion – which was seconded by Councillor Bryony Goodliffe - claimed young people’s mental health services in Cambridgeshire were “in crisis”, and that “waiting lists for counselling are months long and often rely on referrals that are complex for some families to understand”.
An early support hub would provide open access, offering fleixble early support in the community for young people aged under 25. The centres would bring together various services to support young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing such as youth services, sexual health and drug and alcohol services, and health and wellbeing and mental health practitioners.
The aim is to provide support before young people reach crisis point, with the hubs accessed without the need for referrals from doctors or schools.
Councillor Alex Bulat highlighted the need to raise awareness across different communities and include local knowledge, while Councillor Steve Count described opening the hubs as a potential “game changer” and said current funding in this area was “insufficient”.
Council leader Councillor Lucy Nethsingha also gave her full backing to the motion.
Councillor Goodliffe, who herself is a child and adolescent psychotherapeutic counsellor and has suffered depression herself, summed up the debate by thanking local professionals, but said there is a growing need adding this must be a “priority”. She explained the hubs would bring together all services and make them fully accessible.
After the meeting Councillor Goodliffe, who is also chair of the council’s children and young people committee, said: “As someone who has lived with and had professional experience of mental health struggles, this motion was very close to my heart.
“An already stretched service has come under more pressure due to Covid, so it is vital we all work together to make sure we can offer gold-standard mental health provision for young people across the whole of Cambridgeshire, which can be accessed without the need for referral.”