First of its kind
Scotland’s first dedicated mental health service for children and young people at accident and emergency has moved to a permanent home at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
The service - run by 6VT Edinburgh City Youth Cafe – is funded by Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) and supports under 18s presenting at A&E with a range of emotional, physical and social needs, including self-harm, substance and domestic abuse.
In the last year, despite the challenges of Covid-19, the service has supported a total of 335 children and young people within both the RIE and RHSC. Of these, the majority were supported for medical reasons or with substance misuse.
Others who were supported had been victims of violence, had self-harmed, or had a range of mental health needs.
Dot Horne, director of 6VT, said: “This service was first set up as crucial support for children and young people who find themselves in the Emergency Department for any number of reasons. Since then, the added pressures on young people due to Covid and the impact of the restrictions and lockdown has meant this service has become even more critical to help those having a really difficult time.
“The majority of the support we provide is on the night. For many, the chance to speak to a youth worker about how they feel or to simply engage in some calming conversations to distract them from their thoughts has been a welcome opportunity.
“Young people who come to the Emergency Department with complex and challenging issues such as self-harm or substance misuse also often don’t have existing links with other youth work services. In these situations, our service is a vital link between the young person and relevant support agencies. We have remained involved with a number of young people and their families from as far back as 2018.”
ECHC has provided £116k funding to run the service. Children and young people admitted into the hospital through the Emergency Department over the weekend are then supported throughout the duration of their hospital stay by ECHC’s Youth Work Team.
Roslyn Neely, CEO of ECHC, added: “Children and young people experiencing mental health issues too often end up in the Emergency Department, so it is vital to ensure that they are given the right care and support during their time at the hospital and that this is then followed up once they have been discharged.
“The 6VT service has had very positive outcomes at the RIE and RHSC, so we are pleased to continue to fund such a valuable and worthwhile service which will transform the lives of young people coming to the RHCYP.”
The 6VT youth workers will be based in the Emergency Department of the RHCYP on Friday and Saturday evenings between 7pm and 1am. The ECHC Hospital Youth Work Team provides six day a week cover throughout the rest of the hospital.