Mental health service transitions for young people
Practice example: Uthink – a third sector recovery learning programme for 14-25 year olds
Uthink recovery learning programme is designed for 14-25 year olds experiencing, or at risk of developing, mental health problems (including those with first episode psychosis). The programme ran as a pilot in three sites across England and included residential services, leadership, peer mentoring and modular-based elements.
The programmes are recovery-focused and intend to:
- improve young people's understanding of and ability to manage their mental health difficulties
- help them to build peer relationships and networks
- provide opportunities to learn new skills, including communication skills, and to have hope and aspirations for the future.
All programmes emphasise the importance of activities that are enjoyable and rewarding, with particular focus on group activities and learning.
Uthink was designed to address:
the lack of services for younger people, especially the 16-18 group who “fall between stools” of CAMHS and adult services, and the need more generally for services that enable people to find their own solutions rather than being prescriptive.
Each programme offered:
- peer-based support and learning underpinned by a recovery and life skills learning approach in small groups
- a mixed session format comprising practical, artistic and sporting activities, interspersed with information-sharing sessions where young people share ideas and strategies for promoting good mental health and emotional wellbeing
- opportunities to acquire skills likely to be of value now and in adulthood, including the chance to gain a qualification recognised by ASDAN (an educational charity that oversees a number of qualifications)
Now that the pilot phase is complete, aspects of Uthink are being embedded into the local services offered by Rethink in the East Midlands and Dorset areas. Using new funding, programmes are being developed for delivery in London. The London programmes will have a specific focus on supporting young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.
Uthink ran for 41 months in three regions and was funded through a three year grant from the Big Lottery Fund. It was delivered by two Rethink Recovery Officers per pilot area, with management and support centrally from Rethink's Public Affairs Department. Other mental health staff (from CAMHS, EIP services etc) offered input and support to the programmes on a voluntary basis. Most venues were free and actual activity costs were small. Young people's travel and subsistence were the only other significant cost.
Link to full details of practice example.