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Young people's mental health service to close

Lucy Dyke from Beam
Lucy Dyke from Beam said the mental health support service has regular users

A service that has helped thousands of young people with mental health issues is to close after losing its NHS funding.

Shropshire Beam had been an "invaluable service" to the area since 2017, but funding will end on 30 April, said The Children’s Society, which runs it.

Beam supports young people aged under 25 who are waiting for treatment, and has been "vital," the charity says.

The NHS said it was finalising a new contract for children and young people’s mental health services which would reduce waiting times.

Lucy Dyke, who works on the Beam project, said it was unique in what it does.

“We can see around four or five people in a session and I’d probably say three or four of them have gone to GPs with serious concerns," she said.

"There’s just nowhere else that’s able to support them locally, for free."

The service was meant to be low-level, offering brief intervention, but had regulars, she said.

"Every week we get people coming in who’ve self-harmed, attempted suicide, they’ve been referred to crisis services and they get discharged after a certain amount of time. It’s just open, they know we’re here,” Ms Dyke said.

BEAM office
The Children's Society said it was sad to be closing the Shropshire BEAM service, which began in 2017

Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) and NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said they were finalising plans to change the services they offer.

“We thank The Children’s Society for the role its Beam and Wellbeing Zone services have played in supporting children, young people and their families in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin as part of the BeeU partnership," it stated.

A new contract for children and young people’s mental health services would start in April, they stated.

That would see a "reduction in numbers of children waiting, and waiting times for specialist assessments, alongside a greater focus on providing accessible services to children, young people and families", it added.

But Ms Dyke is concerned that cuts to their funding could mean problems further down the line.

“Prevention is better than cure," she said. "A lot of the time it’s just low-level, brief intervention a few times, they understand how to equip themselves and use things to help them feel better."

But she warned issues can escalate very quickly:

"There’s children that have been in the mental health sector for years and it leads down the line to clinical depression, suicide, self-harm, so I firmly believe you’ve got to nip it in the bud in the early days,” Ms Dyke added.

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