A MENTAL health charity on Wearside has been selected to be part of a national pilot scheme which hopes to improve the health and wellbeing of young people.
Washington Mind and Encompass Health Care will take part in a three-year project called GP Champions for Youth Health.
The Department of Health-funded scheme hopes to make health services more “young people friendly” by giving more options to GPs concerning counselling and making use of the voluntary sector.
Jacqui Reeves, services manager at Washington Mind, and GP Sharmila Parks took part in a launch event in London.
Jacqui said: “This is a great opportunity for us to work together with young people in our local area, enabling their views to shape the development of the right health services for them.
“Sharmila and I are really passionate about getting this project started, and we are delighted our area is one of the pilot sites chosen.
Jackie Spencer, business manager of Encompass Healthcare, said: “This is about trying to find out what young people want from their health services, because sometimes we don’t know what they want. So we want to make it more accessible.”
Jacqui added: “Maybe sometimes we focus too much on things like pregnancy and obesity or alcohol problems, which are big issues.
“But some young people, for example a teenage girl, may be looking at treatments for acne because it’s a big thing for her to deal with.”
The initiative is being run by the Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH) and Youth Access, together with the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Adolescent Health Group.
AYPH chief executive Emma Rigby said: “We are very excited to be working with Washington Mind and Encompass Healthcare and hope we can make a real difference to health services for young people in this area. We will address some of the specific health problems young people face such as depression, alcohol and substance misuse and poor sexual health.”
Youth Access director Barbara Rayment said: “There is a wealth of expertise in the voluntary youth sector and we hope this project will help GPs make more use of the fantastic services available locally. We also want young people from the voluntary sector to help GPs develop better services for their age group.”