YSS an example of services using innovative ways of helping young adults: in national report by the Bradley Commission

Published by the Centre  for Mental Health  on  March  19 2014  was the Bradley Commission briefing:

Young adults in the criminal justice system need better help for their mental health to prevent problems getting worse, says a briefing published today by Centre for Mental Health.

The briefing, published as part of the independent Bradley  Commission  shows that almost all young adults in contact with the criminal justice system have multiple problems including mental ill health. Many lead chaotic lives that cause stress and distress. Yet many of the services that work with this group either end or begin at age 18, leaving young adults without effective support.

Commission chair Lord Bradley said: “Few vulnerable young people get the right support to help them to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Many make multiple transitions from children’s services to adult services, including in social care, mental health and criminal justice. All too often this leads to a loss of vital support at a crucial time in their lives. This can cause problems to escalate, leading to further crises and bigger problems later in life.”

The Commission did, however, find examples of services across the country that are using innovative ways of helping young adults through this difficult transition.

They include YSS, a West Mercia  based  charity,  offering intensive support to young adults who have multiple needs that fall below thresholds for mainstream health and care services. They take referrals from the police and probation, offering a range of support options to suit each person and meet their unique needs.

YSS chief executive Rob Smith said: “Young adults referred into YSS are vulnerable people with multiple, complex issues in all areas of their lives. However, typically none of these issues in isolation meets the ever increasing thresholds for statutory services. YSS supports young adults with bespoke interventions and a multi-disciplinary approach. Without this type of support they are at far greater risk of social exclusion and potentially at high risk of causing harm to themselves or others. A greater emphasis has to be placed on diversionary and prevention activity that is holistic in approach, to prevent them impacting on public resources at a later stage and to provide an opportunity for them to lead positive and constructive roles in society.”

The briefing identifies eight core components of effective engagement with young adults. These include a focus on identifying emerging problems early on rather than waiting for a diagnosis to help to make mental health support more engaging. And they include developing consistent and continuous relationships with staff; addressing the full range of a young person’s needs in one place; and involving young adults in making decisions about the support they want and in helping others.

The briefing also makes recommendations for policy and practice. They include:

  • Services working with young people of transitional age should facilitate a formal, face-to-face transfer of care meeting involving the young person, their family and each service that is working with them.
  • Liaison and diversion services should run at evenings and weekends and involve children and young adults in designing services.
  • Education, Health and Care Plans for young people with special educational needs should run continuously, including when a person is in custody.
  • Appropriate adult services should be extended to young adults with mental health problems and those with learning disabilities.

Lord Bradley said: “We have identified many local services that have found ways of offering better support to young people going through the transition to adulthood in the criminal justice system. But many do this against the tide of systems that make effective, engaging support difficult. We need to change those systems to support rather than hinder efforts to give vulnerable young people a better start to adult life.”

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