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New mental health service for young people in Highlands a step closer to opening

By Val Sweeney

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A new centre to help young people experiencing emotional distress is set to open in Inverness this autumn.
A new centre to help young people experiencing emotional distress is set to open in Inverness this autumn.

A new service for young people experiencing emotional distress is set to open its doors in Inverness this autumn.

A new charity, Brent Centre Highlands, will offer psychotherapeutic help to people aged 14 to 21 years.

It comes amid warnings by many experts of a mental health crisis across the UK, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of the rising cost of living.

Brent Centre Highlands has secured premises in Stephens Brae and was one of 51 charities across Scotland recently awarded funding from the Scottish Children’s Lottery.

Its grant totalling £5000 will go towards the estimated £70,000 annual running costs.

It plans to open the Inverness hub initially as well as operating in locations in Caithness, offering a range of appointment times including after school and early evening.

It will be the only psychoanalytic service for young people in the Highlands, offering an additional resource to those who may want to talk to someone about whatever is worrying them in a safe place.

It will be free at the point of access and young people can self refer, or be referred by a GP, teacher, social worker, or youth worker.

It is backed by the Brent Centre for Young People which opened in London in 1967 and was one of the UK’s first mental health services specifically for young people.

It comes at a time when concerns have been raised about the length of time young people are waiting to see a mental health specialist in the Highlands.

Sarah Fielding, head of service for Brent Centre Highlands, said the new funding from the Scottish Children’s Lottery takes the charity another step closer to opening up its service.

"We know the need is really high – we are already receiving requests for help and we are working incredibly hard to open the service as soon as we can," she said.

"We couldn’t be more delighted with the support of the Scottish Children’s Lottery to help us deliver such a key service."

Sarah Fielding, of Brent Centre Highlands.
Sarah Fielding, of Brent Centre Highlands.

Mrs Fielding worked with the Brent Centre in London as a specialist mental health worker and in management for about 20 years.

After moving with her family to the Highlands about four years ago, she became aware of the demand for mental health services for young people in the region.

"The service particularly hopes to help young people who aren’t able to access statutory services that have a cut off at 16 or 18 years, and recognises that young people benefit from their own specially tailored service, particularly when 16 and 18 years are often key ages for developmental change and change in circumstances, where young people may particularly need help or support," she said.

"Young people who contact the service for help will be able to meet for an initial consultation within two weeks of making contact, and the centre will then offer a series of open ended psychotherapeutic consultations to help young people with whatever is troubling them.

Psychoanalysis is often associated with its most famous founder, Sigmund Freud.

Brent Centre Highlands will promote events and thoughtful spaces around psychoanalytic thinking and practice while from the autumn, the Inverness centre will offer professionals, who work directly with adolescents and young

people, a regular thinking space to meet and share fortnightly.

It will be recruiting specialist psychotherapists and mental health workers, and offering a flexible mix of assessment and psychotherapeutic services, alongside any practical support young people need.

It has also launched an online fundraising campaign at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/brentcentrehighlands and is keen to hear from volunteer community fundraisers who may want to create community events.

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