School phobia 'a rising mental health problem in Doncaster'

Every week, hundreds of youngsters in Doncaster ask for help from mental health services.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 1:12 pm

This week, one of the town’s care firms launched its own contribution to dealing with the cascade of calls that are raising issues from our youngsters.

They chose the start of young people’s mental health week to reveal the ME Project, which aims to help with issues before they become a big problem.

Project lead Paige Ebbs is a psychologist who works for Kirk Sandall based Cura Care Yorkshire Ltd. From this week she will bringing groups with similar problems together to help deal with problems.

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Kathryn Bell and Paige Ebbs, of Cura-care, are launching the ME Project to help with the mental health of children and young people
Kathryn Bell and Paige Ebbs, of Cura-care, are launching the ME Project to help with the mental health of children and young people

Cura Care has been told there are 280 approaches for help every month in the borough from under 18s. They had already received around a dozen inquiries before they launched.

The bosses fear Doncaster’s mental health services are being overwhelmed and want to help.

The Free Press is launching a campaign called #JustTalk urging people who are suffering in silence from mental health problems to speak and ask for help.

The Me Project aims to provide somewhere for people with problems to meet others, support each other, and not suffer in silence.

Kathryn Bell, Jackie Walton, and Paige Ebbs, of Cura-care, are launching the ME Project to help with the mental health of children and young people

The idea is to match the need of the groups. It is expected to deal with problems ranging from anxiety and depression, through to self harm and suicidal thoughts.

The groups will mix people with similar problems.

Kathryn Bell, one of the founders of Cura Care, said: “Anxiety is a huge issue for young people at the moment from all the research we’ve been doing.

“We are also seeing school phobia rise as an issue. But they say that the biggest step is to come forward and admit that there’s a problem, to open up and do something about it.

Kathryn Bell, Jackie Walton, and Paige Ebbs, of Cura-care, are launching he ME Project to help with the mental health of children and young people

“School phobia is an issue where you have a huge feeling of fear. It may be triggered by something particular. It can lead to children staying awake all night, not being able to eat because they’re too nervous. Their whole life can be impacted.”

Kathryn is a former education welfare officer, who suffered from anxiety herself in her early 20s. She says the difference between her now and then is that she is now older and has the confidence to talk about it.

“I had fears of physical symptoms, like fainting. It meant I avoided places where there were crowds.”

She found therapy, and finding a safe place to talk, helped her.

Cura Care is a business, and will run the ME Project as one. It is currently taking the plan to commissioners and health organisations to offer them places. They have already had people getting in touch asking to buy a place as a charitable donation, with the request that the project allocates a place to a suitable youngster.

The ME Project – ME is a acromyn for Managing Emotions – bosses hope it will not be dependent on public funding, and therefore could be a long term option for those who need it.

Kathryn said: “We’ve had interest from people as young as six, but the initial age group will be 12 to 19. That is the age group the language is aimed at. We have been approached by families as far away as Devon and Sussex. We have consistently heard that people cannot find mental health services for their children.

“We want to give children a toolkit of strategies to help them.”

Paige said: “We will have activities to get people talking about their own experience. We will create coping strategies.

“I will also create peer support so people will feel that they are not alone. That is why we want to match people into similar groups. There will be a careful matching process. We want this to be sustainable.

“This is about early intervention. We want to get involved before the issues get too big.”