I sat down with Jo Dare, Chief Executive Officer for the Isle of Wight Youth Trust, the Island's Tier 2 child and adolecent mental health provider to ask them questions about how the service has worked towards its key aims and what changes they're planning to make.

The first question I asked her was in respect to how the service has worked towards it's key aims in Ambition 1 (Youth Voice) of their Changing the Odds Strategy: "We've made it ambition one as we want young people to be at the heart of the development of the Youth Trust, it is really really important to us" going onto note that for some years they have collated the Island's Youth Mental Health Census.

She stressed that an important principle for this is "strength in number", noting how she has worked with her colleagues to look at how the service can collaborate with others (such as the Isle of Wight Youth Council) to expand youth voice on the Island, so in her words, it is about:

"Extending youth voice, and growing collaboration, and highlighting to others what's important [to the youth of today]."

Before COVID, around one in nine young people may have experienced poor mental health, post COVID this has been "growing enormously" and national statistics present it at one in four for certain age groups, she noted the demand for services has massively increased at a time where "the resources, and the numbers of trained specialists hasn't been increasing in the same way."

The service has applied for funding from the National Lottery in order to expand their service access, and look at more ways to prevent young people having issues with their mental health, though she stressed this would not undermine their treatment mission, saying their strategy in this respect is:

"Early intervention, Early help, and when you do need help, to get it to you as fast as possible"

In respect to the waiting list, she told me:

"I don't think any of us like the level of the waiting times, we really understand for young people who are waiting there is a risk that their mental health will deteriorate

Though the service is looking at offering additional support to those on the list, such as information and advice on their website.

Though she stressed this would not work for everyone, and she noted that between 3pm and 5pm their drop in service is currently in operation, providing a shared space and access to support, though she stressed this was not a substitute to being on the waiting list.