Emotional wellbeing support provides a lifeline for young adults

A group of young people standing by The Hive signThe NHS will work with social care, education and the voluntary sector to develop new integrated services for 18-25-year-olds transitioning from children and young people’s mental health services.  ‘Katie’ 19, discusses how that type of support from The Hive, in Camden, changed her life. 

The Hive is a very special place.

I was referred there after an unfortunate experience with adult services which left me feeling like they thought I wasn’t ill enough for their support, despite six years of intensive psychiatric input through children and young people’s mental health services.

At first I felt unsure, as I was being offered someone to work with me one-to-one, with no clear therapeutic structure.  I was concerned the support being offered was not as intense as I thought I needed or had received in the past.

I’d also spent so long dipping in and out of different services, I was fed up with starting new relationships with professionals. In my experience, it all starts over each time someone moves on or I’d be referred elsewhere. But I couldn’t have been more wrong – the Hive offered me more than I could have imagined.

The Hive is a multi-faceted hub of support. It gives me one-to-one support, a safe and validating space to meet like-minded peers, a place to learn valuable life skills, and a safe space to do schoolwork outside of my hostel, all of which I’m so grateful for.  Often, a ‘safe space’ isn’t emotionally or socially safe, but here I can relax in ways I can’t in most places, talk with people about things I can’t usually talk about, and enjoy things I can’t usually enjoy.

I met with my fantastic one-to-one worker the week after my referral, for a support session with him and my care co-ordinator. They were friendly, understanding, welcoming and, best of all, validating. The work we do is completely suited to my needs. When we first started, for example, I was overwhelmed with schoolwork and other commitments and struggling to find time to have fun, so we played table tennis and pool for some sessions.

The support is not restricted to one hour a week like most services – I can drop in when I need, call or text, which is a great comfort. My one-to-one worker and care co-ordinator communicate freely with my network of professionals, for example by visiting keyworkers in my hostel, coming into my college for meetings, and even coming to court with me. This is a great help as I struggle to be honest with everyone about how I’m feeling. They’ve helped me manage times of crisis, working with the Crisis House, offering me extra meetings and contacting the specialist mental health team to secure some higher-level support.

Sometimes, the team at The Hive recognise I’m struggling before even I do. And it’s not just my one-to-one worker who I can talk to if I need help – all the staff are so friendly, and I’ve grown close with many of them. They all know me so well, and I can truly be myself there.

The Hive is an amazing space for young people to spend time together. Most of us are struggling with some form of mental health issue, in contrast with other areas of my life. We have fun by playing games, chatting, playing music and sports, whilst also taking part in workshops and activities to develop our knowledge and understanding of ourselves and the world, and learn key skills to help in day-to-day living.

It also offers ways to explore our emotions, for example, through dance, sport, meditation and mindfulness, yoga and group discussions.

In addition, The Hive has given me far more than just mental health support ­– it has helped me to be at peace with negative experiences I’ve endured and switch my mindset from victim to survivor, with opportunities to use my experiences for good by improving services and inspiring others. For example, by suggesting I apply to be a Young Champion with the Anna Freud Centre, I am now an active member of their participation team, have even spoken in Parliament and been interviewed for a film. I’ve also developed my music skills, and performed at many of their events, playing my guitar and singing to large audiences, which has improved my confidence.

I can easily say The Hive is the best service I’ve received support from, and I feel like a person I am happier and more comfortable with. The Hive has such heart, warmth and uniqueness and I really feel part of a community there – part of a family.

I’m so grateful for everything they have and continue to do for me and for the space to just be myself, because there’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

The Hive offers social activities as well as health and wellbeing, employment, training and personal development support.

It is part of the Minding the Gap service and run by Catch 22, a charity that worked with the NHS, local council, and young people in North London to develop support for 16-25 year olds.

Take a look at: Providing support through transition and crisis – Callum’s story.

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