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Pioneering adolescent mental health unit in Cornwall a step closer

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 04, 2013

By Miles Davis, West Briton

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A PIONEERING specialist mental health unit for young people in Cornwall is a step closer to reality.

Families of those in need of mental health care have pushed for a unit for 13 to 25-year-olds in the county.

The Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT), responsible for mental health care, has worked with campaigners and is bringing key partners together on Tuesday to take the £5 million project forward.

The Invictus Trust has led the campaign for a specialist mental health unit, with the West Briton helping it raise awareness of the need for a new facility. The charity was set up by the family of Ben Cowburn, from Truro, who took his own life aged 18 while staying at the Longreach adult mental health unit at Redruth.

Steve Cowburn, Ben's father, said: "We are delighted that the Project Invictus case for an adolescent mental health unit in Cornwall is being backed so widely now.

"We have had expressions of support from Sarah Newton, MP, George Eustice, MP, Cornwall College, Truro and Penwith College and Truro City Council. More than 2,000 people have signed the e-petition and many have put their comments on the Project Invictus blog on our website."

Mr Cowburn said children can be cared for in Plymouth but were often sent as far from their families as London or Southampton.

Mr Cowburn said: "Young adults are cared for in adult units in Cornwall but often the average age of patients is 40 or 50, or even higher, which is no place to care for a young adult."

Mr Cowburn said the support of the CFT had been fundamental to the project's success.

Phil Confue, chief executive of CFT, said he was excited by the chance to develop a specialist facility.

He said: "The development of this unit is an opportunity for us to learn from past incidents and deliver better quality services in future.

"Following July 9 we hope to have an agreed way forward, and the backing of commissioners for the development of a fully costed business case."

CFT has invited local MPs, the Invictus Trust, Cornwall Council, representatives from Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, and the specialist commissioners for children's services from NHS England, to the event at Epiphany House, in Truro.

For more information about the Invictus Trust, and to sign the petition calling for an adolescent mental health unit in Cornwall, go online to www.invictustrust.co.uk

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