University secures funding for mental health service for young people

Thu 07 July, 2016
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A mental health service for homeless young people in Luton will continue to run – thanks to a £278,000 grant secured by a University of Bedfordshire academic.

Senior Psychology lecturer Dr Antigonos Sochos successfully applied for Lottery funding for Mental Health for Homeless Youth, an initiative he designed three years ago.

Dr Sochos, who set up the service in partnership with Luton Community Housing, Mary Seacole Housing Association and Signposts hostel said: “We are delighted to get the money. It is the second grant we have secured and will cover the cost of running the service and the research carried out to investigate its effectiveness.”

Dr Sochos researches the impact of social relationships on human development and mental health.  Through contact with youth workers supporting hostel-based young people, he became aware there was no specialist mental health provision for this vulnerable group.

He said: “These young people are notoriously difficult to engage with mainstream mental health services. They often suffer from severe psychological distress such as post traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.

“The psychological trauma these young people suffer often goes back to childhood and when it remains unaddressed it brings about a range of problems. We needed to create a model that would integrate specialist psychological therapy with existing provision. We applied for funding and once that was approved set up the service.

Dr Sochos, who joined the University in 2005, said: “It is very important that this service continues to exist and I am grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and all those who have contributed.

“The initiative not only supports a vulnerable group of young people by reducing their psychological distress and increasing their chances to find employment or enter education, it also helps the non-profit organisations that are taking part. By working with the University and through our research they can improve the work they do.”

Dr Gail Kinman, Director of the Research Centre for Applied Psychology at the University, said: “Congratulations to Dr Sochos and his team. This is important work that has already made a demonstrable difference to vulnerable young people and will continue to help improve their mental health.”

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