More teenagers in Suffolk seeking mental health support after lockdown impact
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There has been an increasing number of young people in Suffolk seeking mental health support as the impact of the coronavirus lockdown takes it toll.
That was one of the issues revealed during a special, one-day event held by the EADT and Ipswich Star yesterday, bringing together health professionals, support services and those who have experience of mental health challenges.
The free online event, Welcome Back to Wellbeing, looked at the extent of such issues in the county, how they are being addressed, and also offered valuable advice on ways to improve wellbeing.
Held in association with Suffolk County Council, and sponsored by Beckett Investment Management Group, it coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week.
Among those speaking included Dr Rosalind Tandy, a GP in Bury St Edmunds and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, who said there had been a "very large increase" in demand from young people since lockdown.
Dr Tandy said: "In general practice we are seeing a very large increase in requests for help for young people – particularly teenagers who seem to have found it incredibly difficult, especially when you think about the disruption to their life by missing huge chunks of their education, losing all of their social outlets, hobbies and by being stuck at home.
"A lot of young people are really finding it difficult.
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"Certainly, anxiety has had a huge impact on young people, and that's often had a knock-on effect on how they feel about themselves and their self-esteem."
Dr Tandy added more is being done to deliver services to young people in their schools and colleges – with young people being more unwilling to visit doctors surgeries to ask for help.
She said: "For young people there's often not one place or one thing that helps, it's often a joint approach that requires the parents, education, social services, health and general practice all to work together.
"That is the thing we are really now starting to think about and do.
"There probably isn't going to be one quick fix. Parents are a key way of helping and being a part of encouraging these young people to start getting back into the world again."
Everett O'Donoghue, Suffolk's young people’s mental health champion, said the perspective of service users needs to be at the forefront of approaching the issue in the future.
And Anne Humphrys, of the Suffolk Parent Carer Network added instances of "family ping pong" between services also needs to be avoided.
Their views were echoed by Jo Flack, who runs young persons charity the ACE project.
She said it was "really challenging" for young people today, adding: "The technological age has a lot to answer for, social media puts a lot of expectations on young people that I didn't have when I was growing up. A lot of those are unrealistic and unattainable."
Away from young people, Daniel Somers spoke candidly about depression and borderline personality disorder.
Mr Somers, who has previously DJ'd in some of the UK's biggest nightclubs, such as the Ministry of Sound. now runs the MANUP? organisation, which challenges the phrase "man up", and encourages men to feel comfortable speaking about their mental health.
Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director at the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), also highlighted concerns over people from minority ethnic communities not opening up about their mental health – while also raising fears they are not being approached well enough by mental health services.
The day also offered a catalogue of tips to people to improve their mental health - including exercise, understanding emotional needs, and even the positive impact of volunteering.
Those in need of help can contact the following local and national services below.
Call 0808 196 3494 to speak to someone on the 24-hour mental health crisis line. If anyone is at serious risk of harm, call 999 and ask for the police. For non-life threatening medical situations, call NHS111 on 111.
NSFT Wellbeing service
Wellbeing Suffolk offers help and support to improve peoples wellbeing and manage stress, low mood and anxiety.
Call 0300 123 1503, 9am-5pm, or visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/suffolk/
Suffolk Advice and Support Service
Get free professional advice in confidence on finances, rent arrears or other debt, Covid-19 concerns and access to one-off grants.
Call 0800 068 3131, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, or visit
The ACE Project
Supporting young people in Suffolk to Achieve, Connect and Enjoy for Wellbeing.
Every day, Samaritans responds to around 10,000 calls for help.
Call free 116 123, or visit
A free online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service for young people.
Suffolk Mind provides support and information for everyone on anything from wellbeing to ‘severe and enduring’ mental ill-health.
Suffolk Parent Carer Network
A voluntary organisation of parents and carers of children and young people with additional needs and/or disabilities in Suffolk.
Every Mind Matters
NHS mental health advice resource.
Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline
Run by Suffolk County Council with Anglia Care Trust, the helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help those who may be at risk of abuse at home.
Call 0800 977 5690 (freephone)
The StayAlive app is a suicide prevention resource for the UK, packed full of useful information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis.
Download the StayAlive
app from the App Store or Google Play, or visit