A new offering developed in collaboration with young people, who said mental health services can feel lonely and they want support from people they can relate to.

Best For You is the new, transformative approach to mental health care from the NHS that was launched at the end of last year in response to the rocketing rates of young people experiencing mental health difficulties.

The new volunteering programme launches today and is the second phase of the transformative Best For You initiative to launch in as many months. The NHS Trusts behind this innovative, new approach are fast-tracking all of the different elements as quickly as possible to help as many young people as possible.

Digital Interventions

The first phase of the NHS Best For You programme was the launch of its digital platform last year, which uniquely combines:

  • Clinically-assessed and age-appropriate digital aids and apps
  • Crisis information including a dedicated text support service that is free, confidential and accessible 24/7 – just text NATTER to 85258
  • Information about conditions, accessing services and support
  • Peer support that aims to connect with, and inspire young people to not feel afraid about seeking support with advice on how to find the help they need

Volunteering Programme

The volunteering programme is the next phase to launch and has, importantly, been codesigned with young people in response to them telling us that mental health services can feel lonely and that they want support from people they can relate to.

The volunteering programme initially comprises 10 digital volunteers aged 20-29 years old, with the aim of quickly expanding both the numbers of volunteers and how they support the programme.

The Best For You digital volunteers have been trained to:

  • Coach patients on the digital tools and apps available to them with the aim of driving a deeper understanding of how they work and in turn encourage more regular use
  • Swiftly and effectively resolve any issues or questions
  • Check in on their progress regularly and help to keep them engaged
  • Collate and feedback comments from users so ongoing improvements can be made to the service, improving the experience for themselves and other patients
  • Support the family and friends of patients so they in turn can help their loved one

The digital platform and the volunteering programme are just two parts of the Best For You programme that also include the below, which will be launching this year, to provide integrated, comprehensive and long-term care:

  • Day services will provide a space for young people and their families to get immediate mental health support without needing an appointment including outpatient clinical care, therapies and family support. The day services will connect with the inpatient service and community services to ensure patient experience is not fragmented but instead joined-up and available long-term to support recovery and ongoing wellbeing.
  • Community partnerships will bridge the gap between the clinical and community setting. Innovative partnerships with the private sector, schools, community groups, crisis services and digital services will ensure comprehensive and personalised care is optimised and, critically, available for as long as required.
  • A Young People’s Rapid Assessment Unit staffed by a multidisciplinary team will integrate, for the first time, medical care with mental health care to quickly and seamlessly assess, transfer and treat young people requiring help. Currently, the treatment of a young person in mental health crisis draws a line between physical and mental health assessment.

Martyna Stasiak, one of the Best For You volunteers, says: “I know from experience that young people are facing another kind of pandemic at the moment. Not only are we trying to navigate COVID but we’re also dealing with increased feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and so much more. I applied to volunteer as part of Best For You not only because I can relate to some of these experiences and want to help young people in need, but I also recognise the benefit volunteering has for me too. I experienced social anxiety as a result of the first lockdown and so working with others via the volunteering programme is helping me manage my own mental health too.”

Tina Fletcher, Best For You Volunteering Manager, explains: “Volunteering is a fulfilling way to help others and has been proven to impart as many health benefits on the volunteer as well as the people they are helping. The top benefits include: building self-esteem; reducing stress; creating a sense of purpose; helping to learn new skills; and it can also help people trying to get back into the workplace after a break in your career. If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering or are looking for more information on mental health, visit www.bestforyou.org.uk.”