Leeds mental health services to look towards TikTok and Instagram

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Mental health services in Leeds will target social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram in an attempt to reach younger people suffering from mental health problems over Christmas and the New Year.

It follows a decrease in the number of child and adolescent mental health referrals since the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown earlier this year.

Jess Evans, a mental health commissioning manager at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told a meeting of Leeds City Council’s child scrutiny board that the decrease was partly due to individuals’ unwillingness to visit doctors’ surgeries during the first national lockdown.

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She told a councillors: “The impact of Covid on children and young people’s mental heath has been significant.

Mental health services in Leeds will use social media apps such as TikTok to reach out to young people. (Pic: Getty)Mental health services in Leeds will use social media apps such as TikTok to reach out to young people. (Pic: Getty)
Mental health services in Leeds will use social media apps such as TikTok to reach out to young people. (Pic: Getty)

“During the first lockdown, there was a decrease in the number of referrals to mindmate service. A large proportion of those referrals came from GPs and fewer people were presenting to their GPs. Self-referral numbers also reduced.”

She added that, by October, the numbers had reached similar levels to the same month in 2019, but added there was still more to do.

“We have increased communications through our social media, radio and online,” she said. “We have made improvements in the Mindmate website.

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“We know from the children and young people’s health needs assessment the barriers faced by certain young people in certain communities and how we need to tailor and address the support.

“We are planning a big campaign over social media to take place over the Christmas holidays and over the new year, branching out into the use of things like TikTok and Instagram, because that is where the young people have told us is a good place to reach lots of young people.”

The meeting took place to discuss plans around Leeds City Council’s Future in Mind strategy, which outlines priorities for the future of mental health services for children, young people and families.

Members of the board also heard how work was being done to help young adults transition from child to adult mental health services.

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Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families Coun Fiona Venner said: “This is a hugely important issue. It’s been a problem for the whole of the 25 years I’ve worked in mental health services.

“In terms of young people falling down the gaps between child and adult mental health services, it’s better than it used to be . Child and adolescent mental health services used to stop at 16 and adult services started at 18 – there was literally a chasm people fell down.

“That is not the case anymore but nevertheless, that transition often does not go well – and it has had some incredibly tragic consequences here in Leeds and in other parts of the country, in terms of young people ending their own lives.

“We heard some distressing and powerful testimony from parents who lost young adult children.”