Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Care and Mental Health and MP for Thurrock, visited The Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health on 14 September to gain insight into the issues and pressures impacting on the mental health of young people.
The Minister was given a warm welcome by young people staying at the unit, Clinical Lead Dr Rafik Rafaat and the wider team. She had an opportunity to speak to specialist staff and therapists to understand the types of issues young people are struggling with. She spent time with a group of young people, and later, with some parents to understand the issues leading up to admission from their perspective.
The Minister was given a tour of the unit by one of the young people. She joined a live music class, and visited the art room and the gym to see how occupational therapy activities help young people to articulate their feelings and express difficult emotions. The Minister described the creative art pieces designed by the young people as ‘fascinating and impressive’.
She generated a few smiles when she "I wanted to see a great service, so here I am!"
When speaking with parents about their experience of mental health care at home and in the unit, she was interested in the sensitivity of staff, and the feelings of parents when leaving their children at the unit. Staff on the unit stressed that they are keen to offer support to parents too who have often had a difficult time trying to manage the needs of their child. The unit is keen for families to be involved in supporting the young person.
Henry Iwunze, General Manager of the Coborn informed the Minister that as part of this, parents were encouraged to visit and to stay overnight during the weekends to stay close and connected to their child, to maintain this important relationship. The team review feedback from families when the young person is discharged to evaluate their approach to ensure they make optimum use of all support for the young people admitted to the unit.