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New Home from Home for Young People with Mental Health Problems

February 25, 2009 11:33 AM

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Being a teenager is tough enough. Dealing with a changing body, hormones and mood swings is difficult, but when you add mental health problems into the equation, it can lead to very real and sometimes life threatening conditions.

Enter Skye House…a new purpose built facility on the Stobhill Hospital site that provides a range of dedicated services for young people aged 12-to-18 years, from across the West of Scotland, who have serious mental health problems.

Skye House will opens to patients today and replaces the existing West of Scotland Adolescent Inpatient Unit at Gartnavel. The new Skye House is a £7.6 million facility with 22 beds – six more than before - and two short stay beds for young people.

It will provide inpatient treatment for young people who suffer from conditions like severe depression, eating disorders, psychosis and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

In addition to all the patient accommodation at Skye House being en-suite, it also has a purpose-built gym, fully equipped classrooms, landscaped gardens and overnight accommodation for visiting families.
Skye House has been specially designed and purpose-built to meet young people’s needs and will lead to substantial improvements in their care and treatment. The planning of the new unit also benefitted from the fact that the patients themselves contributed significantly to the planning process.
Former patient Lorna (20), who spent 16 months in the existing adolescent ward, made suggestions to the architects about the interior design of Skye House:

“I suggested lots of space, big windows and lots of natural light and colours, to make it less like a hospital environment.

“I said that they should make it more homey so that people who are here long-term don’t feel like they are in an institution.”

She added that the ensuite bedrooms will provide important privacy and dignity for young patients.

And the therapy kitchen in Skye House, where patients can learn cooking skills using both gas and electric hobs, is a real asset:

“Encouraging people to have a health diet by making healthy meals is important, and I think it’s brilliant.”

Lorna talks candidly and articulately of her mental health problems which found a form of release in self-harming and began when she was just 10-years-old.

Her behaviour became so unmanageable that she couldn’t live at home and when she was 16-years-old she was admitted to the adolescent unit at Gartnavel Royal Hospital.

Being admitted was a “relief” and Lorna went on: “I knew that I would get help in hospital and that the staff believed everything I was saying about how I felt.

“When I started self-harming I didn’t know what it was, I just did it, I’d never heard of self-harming.

“I was bullied at school and there was also a lot of pressure to get good exam marks at that school, and this combination led to me becoming very unwell and at the age of 15 I realised that I was in need of care.”

Her health impacted on friends: “Because I wasn’t at school when they came to visit me they didn’t know what to do or say because they were teenagers themselves.

“But I have rekindled some of these friendships now.”

Lorna is now living in supported accommodation, volunteering with Venture Scotland, and taking time to think about her future.

But she has made one decision: “Something I want to do is raise awareness in schools of self-harming.
“There is such a lot of stigma that people keep quiet and just get on with their lives and so the stigma is compounded.”
Dr Heather Gardiner, Consultant Psychiatrist at Skye House, said: “This new accommodation really is outstanding and will lead to substantial improvements in their care and treatment for this group of patients. Many of our patients can stay with us for many months so an environment conducive to recovery and stability is crucial. Skye House offers a unique and unrivalled ability to offer our patients what they have never had before – a home away from home.”
Ends
Notes to Editor
Mental health services for children and young people are planned on a regional basis by the West of Scotland NHS Boards (NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lanarkshire).

The new Skye House is funded by all of these Boards to deliver a service for patients from their areas.

For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201

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