Holding handsA new mental health service has been launched in Birmingham that aims to revolutionise care for children, young people and young adults across the city. 

Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB), commissioned by Birmingham South Central, Birmingham Cross City, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), combines the expertise of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the Priory Group, Beacon UK and The Children’s Society. 

Working with young people and their families throughout, FTB clinicians have designed a range of new services and facilities focused around the individual needs of 0-25 year olds. These services have been established during a phased approach between October 2015 and April this year.

This is the first time services have spanned this age range anywhere in the country – bringing an end to disjointed and fragmented care, complicated service pathways and long waiting lists. Services will also be more closely aligned with health, education and care plans, and local authority services for people with learning disabilities and those in care.

The main improvements to what’s been previously provided are, according to FTB:

For the first time, 0-25s will be seen by the same service 

Care will be delivered in a more joined-up manner across all services in the city to the benefit of patients and families

A robust service will be in place for 16-18 year olds – bridging a gap previously experienced by young people in this age group 

Additional prevention activities will be in place to promote emotional wellbeing in local communities

A new city centre drop-in service, called Pause, will offer advice and support in a friendly environment

A 24/7 phone number will offer instant access to crisis support for all 0-25s, families, friends, health professionals and anyone else with a concern

The Access Centre, which acts as the front door for all patients and referrers, will ensure that there is no wrong door for accessing mental health services in Birmingham. It is open from Monday to Friday (8am-8pm) and Saturday and Sunday (10am-3pm). Outside of these hours there is a direct emergency out-of-hours crisis service

New inpatient beds for 18-25s in a newly refurbished, dedicated therapeutic environment 

A state-of-the-art integrated patient management system will ensure people no longer get 'lost in the system’.

David Melbourne, interim chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, lead partner of FTB, said: “As Europe’s youngest city, we are incredibly proud that Birmingham is leading the way in transforming mental health services for children, young people and young adults. 

“We have listened to what children, young people and young adults want and our services have been designed with them in mind, giving us the best possible chance to set young people on a path towards a healthier, happier and brighter future.”

Dr Diane Reeves, accountable officer for Birmingham South Central CCG, lead commissioner for children and young people’s health services on behalf of the three CCGs in Birmingham, added:  “Emotional and mental wellbeing is a critical part of all our health, particular during the formative years. Around half of all mental health illnesses begin by 14 years of age and three-quarters by 24 years. Preventing and identifying mental health issues as early as possible is crucial to effective treatment and recovery. 

“I’m confident that offering this completely new way of providing evidence based mental health services with creative solutions identified in partnership with service users will lead to the best outcomes for our children and young adults.”

Clare Rowland is one of a number of young people who has been involved in helping shape to shape the new services. The 22-year-old from Edgbaston said: “I’m really excited about the new services and the support in place for children, young people and young adults. I have been involved in helping to design and develop Forward Thinking Birmingham to be sure that it meets the needs of the people using it. The team heard from us on what was good and bad about mental health services and what needed to change. We were also involved in interviewing staff and helped design the Pause drop-in service. 

“As FTB has come to life, I can see that we really have been listened to. It’s been such a great experience to be involved in making some very positive changes. I really believe the new services are innovative and will better 0-25s.

“I am so passionate about the services that have been created that I wanted to continue to be involved and decided to become a sessional youth worker for the Pause drop-in service. I hope my knowledge as a young person’s participant will really enable me to be the type of youth worker that I know young people want.”