Concern over rise in mental health referrals

11:33 10 March 2014

Debbie Humberstone founder of The Project

Debbie Humberstone founder of The Project


Axminster group critical of delays in treating young people and says the service is ‘desperately under-resourced’

A pioneering Axminster-based mental health project for young people has reacted critically to news of a sharp increase in

referrals for anxiety and depression in Devon.

Figures just released show that nine per cent more adults and 30 per cent more young people were sent for treatment last year.

Local mum Debbie Humberstone, who launched The Project last autumn, said numbers attending her group were now rising quickly.

“Since the beginning of the year we have been getting enquiries and referrals on an almost daily basis from doctors, schools and from parents,” she told The Herald.

“Whilst this is good, and we know our groups are meeting a need, our problem is in finding adequate, responsive services when we want to refer a child or young person on for one-to-one help.

“Official figures show that in some cases those over the age of 18 with complex mental health problems may have to wait up to two years for support.

“As for those under the age of 18 - who would be supported by Devon’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) - we are finding that many of our young people have been stuck on waiting lists for referral to statutory services for many months. Mental health services for young people are desperately under-resourced, and yet the number of young people experiencing issues with anxiety and depression is rising year on year.”

The Project runs two-hour support groups, alternating weekly between those aged 12 to 16 and those aged 17 to 24.

From its base in Axminster, the group supports young people across East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset. Staff and volunteers use discussion, arts, self-expression and activities ranging from meditation to bushcraft to provide new ways of supporting emotional and mental wellbeing.

There is also a monthly support group for parents of young people with mental health issues.

For further information about The Project contact or telephone 07970 167341 or email


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