Walking the talk: a path to better mental health support

Posted: Wednesday 11th July 2018

Author: Imogen Woods


Did you know that 75% of mental illnesses start in adolescence and that one in six people in the UK will experience mental health issues at some point in their life? It is increasingly important for us all to be aware of the impact it has on people’s lives – whether they experience it personally, or whether they are supporting friends, family or colleagues.

The main concern for people experiencing issues like depression, anxiety, stress, abuse and other issues, is that the NHS doesn’t have the funding or capacity available to provide the necessary care and intervention. There is currently an 18 month wait for counselling services on the NHS, a waiting period that in most cases means that intervention comes too late.

This lack of immediate care on the NHS means that GPs and schools are looking for other support systems to refer young people to. There are charities available to provide this support and referrals are more often than not being sent to them to ensure that help is available much sooner.

One particular charity, which we at AD Communications have been hugely impressed with, is Twickenham-based Off the Record, which offers vital counselling services to young people, aged 11-24, who are living, working or studying in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. The charity, which has been running for over 25 years, offers crisis counselling, 12-week counselling sessions (extended if required) and a sexual health clinic. The wait for most services is less than a month, and crisis counselling is offered immediately, something that is not available through the NHS. Beyond services to young people in need, Off the Record also offers support to carers and youth workers and supports schools through workshops and advice, helping over 2,000 people each year.

We can all relate to the pressures of school, from exam stress, to making friends and adapting to huge changes in our lives. Unfortunately, many young people are experiencing more than just everyday stress and are suffering with mental health issues that are going unnoticed. Moreover, teachers and school staff aren’t sufficiently equipped to provide the necessary help to young people, so all too often, even when mental illness is identified in young people, it is not being acted on.

Off the Record currently works with one local school offering workshops and advice to students and teachers to help them to identify mental illness and find support for those affected. With sufficient funding, they will be able to expand these services to many more schools in the area.

Growing referral numbers are testament to the importance of Off the Record’s work, with more and more young people accessing the charity’s services, they have recently seen the number of people on the waiting list for counselling services rise from 50 to 100. With government funding limited and grants not always available, Off the Record and similar charities depend on donations to continue to provide these vital services, and though they receive vital support from counsellors who volunteer their time, the charity still needs to raise at least £170,000 to be able to run each year. This is where we want to help.

At AD Communications we promote positive mental health in the workplace and in the personal lives of our employees. As a company, we also believe we have a responsibility towards the wider community, so on 8th-9th September 12 members of the team are taking part in The Thames Path Challenge, walking a collective total of 700km to raise a target of £3,400 for Off the Record.

Since beginning our fundraising and training for the walk, we have been overwhelmed with the support and generosity of our friends, family, clients and suppliers. Generosity like this warms our hearts and reinforces the importance of having a supportive community and network of people around you. These donations will help Off the Record to continue offering a safe environment to the young people who so desperately need it.

If you haven’t already, please help us to provide Off the Record with the funding that they need to continue offering their service and helping young people. You can find out more about the challenge and donate here: https://mydonate.bt.com/teams/adcomets


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