Excluded young people involved in gangs and anti-social behaviour are among the 5% who commit 50% of youth crime. In London alone gang members carry out half of all shootings and are involved in 22% of all serious violence. Currently serious youth violence costs society £4B a year. However, the young people behind these statistics are often the poorest and most marginalised in our society, dealing with domestic violence, abuse, neglect, leaving care and homelessness.
One in three young people who offend have an unmet mental health need – from depression, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, hyperactivity to substance abuse. Clinical depression is far more likely to present itself as aggression in young men – aggression that can result in anti-social behaviour and violence.
The UK’s mental health services have traditionally put the onus on people to actively seek help. Many young people do not recognise that they need help or that help is available – approaching mental health services is simply not an option. Consequently their mental health problems are overlooked until it is far too late.
MAC-UK delivers mental health therapies to some of the UK’s most excluded and deprived young people who are most in need of mental health support but least likely to access it. We take what we know works in the clinic onto the streets where excluded young people are, where they need it, when they need it – on a bus, in a stairwell or whilst waiting at court. This ‘Streetherapy’© is at the core of our Integrate© model. It is a flexible approach led by teams of mental health clinicians. The aim is ultimately to bridge young people into existing services by breaking down the barriers between young people and the services they so desperately need. This innovative approach takes what we know works from the mental health field, and delivers it in a highly adaptive and flexible way.
It is a radical approach. MAC-UK are transforming mental health service delivery to excluded young people across their communities. We believe that by putting mental health at the heart of solutions, we can find new answers to the complex problem of serious youth violence.