A pledge to keep on listening to young people in Wigan

Coun Jenny Bullen and Coun Susan Gambles with staff from Wigan Council, GP Dr Jayne Davies and representatives from Wigan Borough CCG and North West Boroughs NHS Trust, and young people from Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet at the Mental Health and Me Event
Coun Jenny Bullen and Coun Susan Gambles with staff from Wigan Council, GP Dr Jayne Davies and representatives from Wigan Borough CCG and North West Boroughs NHS Trust, and young people from Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet at the Mental Health and Me Event

A café where young people can chat about their mental health and get expert advice could be part of a service shake-up in Wigan.

Health bosses are working on reforms to improve support services having listened to feedback from thousands of teenagers.

The proposals would also see better support provided in schools and more information on mental health made available for parents and carers.

More than 2,000 11 to 17 year olds took part in a survey to help inform the plans with an informal community venue and the importance of help in schools, heavily featured in the feedback.

Coun Jenny Bullen, lead member for young people’s services, said: “In the survey, young people told us that they feel most worried about school or college, so we’re going to look at the support that could be offered in schools. We’ve recently introduced a dedicated team of mental health practitioners linked to schools.”

Professionals from local health services and Wigan Council met with young people to update them on the plans at an event organised by Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet last week.

The Mental Health and Me event gave more than 100 young people the chance to hear about what is proposed.

David Higginbottom, 17, a member of the Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet who helped organise the event, said: “Lots of people turned up and everyone was enthusiastic and got involved.

“The professionals’ presentation showed that they are starting to make changes based on what young people are telling us.

“We’re going to make sure they keep talking to us and keep making the changes that young people most need.”

Coun Bullen added: “Young people told us that friendships were very important to them but that they were also a main cause of stress and that body image was a huge concern.

“This event gave us an opportunity to find out more about why this is and what could be done to help.”

The proposal to have an informal community venue such as a specially designed café has been supported by the borough’s Future in Mind group, the multi-agency group tasked with improving provision for children’s mental health.

Members have visited similar services in other areas and are now investigating the possibility of developing a young people’s mental health café in Wigan borough.

Local GP Dr Jayne Davies is the group’s chairperson. She said: “We know that there’s lots we still need to do.

“The survey showed that there’s still a stigma around asking for help; young people don’t want to be seen as attention seekers, and we want to be able to offer parents and carers more support around how to talk to and support teenagers with their mental health.”

Dr Davies added: “It’s been fantastic to work with young people on the plans.

“The Future in Mind group will now be concentrating on putting the plans into action.

“We will keep listening to young people, involving them in the design of each piece of work as we go along and will keep them informed on how things progress.”