March 2nd marked a significant day for young people across Cornwall as construction for Cornwall’s first ever mental health unit for children and teenagers commenced.
The new addition to Bodmin Hospital, which is due to open in May 2019 was named ‘Sowenna’, meaning welfare and success in Cornish, by young people from the CAMHS Young People’s board and one of our partners Young People Cornwall.
The much needed unit will offer 14 beds for 13-18 year olds suffering from complex and severe mental health issues with accommodation for family members, a ‘Crisis Café’ and a recreational sports barn.
The unit will be divided into five elements; the entrance area, small living clusters with bedrooms, shared living areas, education block and offices. Allowing service users to benefit from a dedicated education, therapy and recreation space, sports facilities and a number of courtyards within the unit to allow for light access to outside space and fresh air. Watch the animation below to see what the unit will look like once completed.
Historically families have been forced to travel miles to see their children getting psychiatric help as young people have been sent across the country to access the support they need. One young person from Penzance told Pirate FM, “When I was in-patiented I ended up in Kent for about six and a half months, and that was a really difficult step, because you can’t have any interaction with family or friends, you don’t have leave.”
“To be able to have a unit in county for people who need help is so important, as they can get [the] help they need and continue their relationships, to help create better care for their mental health inside and outside of hospital.”
She added: “It was really difficult, I couldn’t have visitors or leave, I was feeling very hospitalised while I was there.
“Coming out on discharge it was extremely scary to be back in the community, because I hadn’t really left the ward at all for about six and a half months by the time I left.
“It will take lots of emotional and financial strain off families, they can come and see their children rather than having to take time off work, it will be a lot more accessible.”
By having this in county unit family and friends will be able to visit and support their loved ones, which is a key element in young people’s recovery. As well as delivering on NHS England’s commitment to reduce out of area placements for children and young people by increasing bed numbers nationally by 10%.