A partnership with NHS Forth Valley is ensuring young people have a say in how they are supported through the BRAVE Stirling project.

BRAVE works one-to-one with young people to address immediate and underlying reasons for drug and alcohol misuse enabling children and young people to transform their lives.

The BRAVE project is funded through the Scottish Government’s National Drugs Mission – Children and Young People fund which is administered by the Corra Foundation.

It has a strong whole-family approach, building on parental capacity, and using existing family strengths to address family needs.

Giving additional mental wellbeing support to the project is Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sarah Louise Wright who has been supporting BRAVE for the past two years.

‘BRAVE Stirling gives young people choices around their own treatment plan, making sure the young person is at the forefront of their own care. This is central to how includem works and it really makes a difference to the way young people engage,’ said Sarah Louise.

 ‘This is an area myself and BRAVE colleagues have tried to focus on a lot. Young people in care tend to get choices made for them throughout their life and are often not part of the decision-making process around events and circumstances that affect them. It is their care at the end of the day so it’s important that they have a say.

 ‘Young people can refer themselves to BRAVE which is a big part of what makes it a success because young people are choosing to take part, it is not something they are being told to do.

 ‘We get word of mouth referrals with service users telling their pals “y’know these people are actually quite helpful maybe you should check them out,” We often get better outcomes out of self-referrals because the young person has already made the decision that they want to seek help with whatever issue it is they are having.

The team works with young people aged between 12-26.

‘From the moment we meet the young person is 100% in control of their support, how often they want to meet, where they want to meet and what sort of things they want to work on. It often changes over time as well, as they progress the type of support they want may change to suit their changing circumstances.

Sarah Louise said that taking mental health support out of a healthcare setting has been really helpful.

‘Sometimes in a GP surgery or substance abuse space it can be really daunting for young people, so it has been great to have a safe space at includem to work with young people in a supportive environment,’ she said.

Sarah Louise has worked with dozens of young people over the past two years with general successful outcomes.

We like to think that the service is proactively intervening before a young person reaches crisis point, helping them through whatever substance use or mental health issues they are experiencing.’

She added: ‘Within includem there are so many people with different skill sets, it’s not one size fits all, they will genuinely work with a young person to build a programme that works for them as an individual involving them on the process all the way.’

Find out more about BRAVE Stirling here: https://includem.org/brave-stirling/