The referral

LM was referred to Positive Futures by his mum after his sibling had previously benefited from the Targeted Support Service available via the youth development charity. Age 16, he was refusing to attend school and was spending a lot of time with young people who engaged in low level anti-social behaviour.

The intervention

At the time of being referred to Positive Futures, LM was becoming increasingly withdrawn, but he agreed to doing some one to one sessions with a Targeted Support Worker. His baseline assessment highlighted that he was very high for depression and health anxiety. His Targeted Youth Worker supported him in setting some personal goals to develop his self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, he decided that he wanted to try and attend school every day, if only for a few hours.

As the support commenced, LM worked with his Targeted Support Worker to develop a plan of action. He also enrolled on to a 6-week skiing course which would require a commitment every weekend alongside a course of one to one sessions.

His support worker used the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy during the one to one sessions. He responded well to this, and his school attendance shot up to 90%. However, half way through the intervention, LM was admitted to hospital and was an inpatient for a few weeks. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and this exacerbated his health anxiety significantly. He refused to leave the house let alone attend school. It was therefore necessary to change the goal and plan of action.

“He refused to leave the house let alone attend school. It was therefore necessary to change the goal and plan of action. Diabetes wasn’t stopping him leaving the house but his anxiety was”.

Our in-house Family Support Worker became involved and we advocated on their behalf with school who were threatening legal action due to such low attendance. Diabetes wasn’t stopping him leaving the house but his anxiety was. He had developed such strong anxiety, he believed he would die if he didn’t have immediate access to a bathroom and his medications at any time. We continued his one to one support whilst arranging relevant meetings with teachers and the Educational Welfare Services. The threat of court action was stopped and school agreed to a personalised timetable and flexibility for LM, which included daily meetings with the school concierge on arrival to discuss how he was and help put him at ease.

The impact

After 10 one to one sessions and a range of multi-agency meetings, LM started attending school again on a reduced timetable. And whilst he still had health anxiety at the time when the intervention came to an end, he was managing it sufficiently to ensure it had limited impact on his education. At the end of the targeted support, his score for depression had decreased from above a clinical threshold to a more manageable level and he was no longer engaging with the low level anti-social behaviour he once was. Mum reported that “I don’t know where we’d be without the support from Positive Futures”.