Our vision: Building a compassionate mental health community for children and young people.
Throughout 2021/22, the way in which our services were delivered continued to be impacted by Covid restrictions. We managed to keep most of our buildings open throughout the year although often with fewer staff on site and with Covid precautions in place. This was very important for those young people who felt unable or unwilling to access help through remote channels. However, we’ve also continued to offer telephone, text-based and video support to those young people who still prefer to use those mediums and this will remain a permanent feature of our offer. During the pandemic, we saw a very strong increase in demand for online support. As restrictions eased, there was a clear return of requests for in-person contact instead – a marker of ‘zoom fatigue’ even amongst those who regularly spend significant time online.
Young people have been particularly strongly impacted by the pandemic with disruption to education; family stress and bereavement; increased levels of isolation and anxiety. It is now being recognised that Covid represents a ‘generational trauma’ for children and young people and the mental health implications of these challenges will undoubtedly be evident for many years to come. Demand for mental health support is significantly above pre-pandemic levels in all our services and that demand is expected to continue to rise.
“I felt that the people that I talked to knew how to help and were listening to what I had to say.”
“It helped me speak to my Mum more freely. I felt another person was counting on me to get better."
"It was helpful to share emotions without someone judging me."
"I felt very listened to and valued from start to finish."
100% of young people who gave feedback said that the help they had received with OTR Merton was good.
MHST (Mental Health Support Team) services have supported 273 individual children and young people over 1,595 sessions.
At the end of March 2022 there were 792 young carers and young adult carers registered with the service.
During this year there were 546 young people who received support in the Sutton Service.
146 young people received individual counselling with the refugee service in the past year.
The Croydon Counselling service offered 3,072 counselling sessions to 698 young people.
“It’s not like the sessions I had before. I feel the sessions have worked around what I've said so they feel more inclusive.”
“I was given lots of strategies that would help me, if I found some strategies hard they would offer alternative strategies.”
“I was listened to and not judged. I had the support when I really needed it and my counsellor was very supportive.”
“I felt understood and not alone. As if it was always here and a second home with no judgement in the building.”
"All of my problems were listened to attentively and relevant suggestions were brought up and discussed helping me to cope better."
New ways of working
To build on our Covid learning and to meet the increased demand, the charity is focussed on new ways of working that offer immediate and meaningful short-term interventions to young people at the point of need. Central to these is the development of our new First Contact Team who will be responsible for initial contact with all young people seeking help from Off the Record, and providing fast and effective responses including short-term interventions, resources and signposting. The team started work in the Sutton borough in early 2022 and we have already seen very positive results with very few young people feeling the need to wait for a counselling intervention. The team are now starting to work with Croydon referrals. A further new development in early 2022 was the appointment of a team of Peer Support Workers who bring lived experience of mental health into the work with young people. This has been a hugely positive development with Peer Support Workers now based in all our borough services and within the First Contact Team offering shorter term interventions to those with less complex needs.
Monday - Friday, 3-6pm; Saturdays, 10am-1pm