Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit

What is the Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit?

Run by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, they deliver the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across Sussex, including Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit (Chalkhill) in Haywards Heath. The centre is Sussex’s only mental health inpatient unit for young people, supporting over 8,750 children and adolescents each year.

Opened in 2009, the unit provides day care, outreach, and – where absolutely necessary and appropriate – inpatient services for young people with a range of mental health illnesses. These include eating disorders, emotional based needs, depression and early-onset psychosis.

Why have we chosen to support them?

We believe in giving all young people a chance and being able to support them when it is most needed. 1 in 10 young people in the UK aged 5-16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s around three children in every school class. Whilst the majority of young people in Sussex who need mental health support receive it through their GP’s, or from locally based mental health teams, there are some with more complex needs who require more specialist or intensive treatment.

How will the funds raised make a difference?

Research has shown that leisure activities are vital for the recovery of young people with mental health needs, helping them to enhance their psychological, emotional, social and physical well-being. Prior to admission to Chalkhill, many of the young people have been unable to attend school, experienced bullying and have lost contact with friends. One of the biggest challenges they face is how to start managing their own time again and learning to be with other people.

In 2015, we funded a pilot activities scheme for young people who are cared for at Chalkhill, called ‘The Rockinghorse Activities Programme’. The scheme proved to greatly complement the clinical work of the unit as well as their education programme. Feedback shows the scheme has helped young people to increase self-esteem and confidence, improved health and well-being and has helped to develop skills beneficial for education and independent living upon leaving the unit.

Following the success of the scheme, we have already provided funding to continue the programme throughout 2016. As part of our 50th year appeal, we have provided funding for the programme in 2017 and into 2018, and also plan to extend the scheme into the community through the CAMHS services, with a particular focus in the Brighton and Hove area.