Young people get the Prom experience despite mental health challenges

12 July 2023

Young people get the Prom experience despite mental health challenges

For many teenagers, Prom represents an important milestone in their young lives. However, young people who experience severe mental health problems often miss out on these significant events due to their challenges.

Following the completion of their GCSEs, young people at Austen House, a specialist, low-secure mental health service for young people aged 12-18 years, were able to celebrate their Prom thanks to staff and the generosity of local businesses which were co-ordinated by Austen House education team which is provided by Hampshire County Council.

Young people were excited to start the day with hair and make-up. Kelsey, a local hairdresser, supported staff to ensure the young people felt special by providing expert styling tips. To complete the look the young people were able to choose from a range of dresses donated by Prom Ally and Solent Prom Dress. Flowers were donated by staff for the young people to decorate their hair and wear as a corsage.

Arriving in style is a key part of every young person’s Prom experience. Brighterway, Southern Health’s charity funded New Forest Limousines to provide a limo for the young people to enjoy a short drive around Southampton.

One of the young people said: “Prom was everything I hoped it to be and more. It meant the world to me to see all theseAusten House Prom at NHS Trust.jpg incredibly kind people care and take it the extra mile for us, just out of the generosity of their hearts. We cannot be more grateful for this experience.

“It is so gut-wrenching to see other people my age reach these milestones and feel left behind, but, with this Prom it gave us the chance to feel ‘normal’, even just for one day. It gave me motivation for recovery and showed us that sometimes, life is fun. Thank you so so much.”

Another young person said: “The prom was such a fun day, it brought us all together and everyone had a good time. It was so nice to be able to have Prom as I had missed that opportunity as I had been in hospital. So to have staff put together a Prom was really thoughtful.”

A recent report suggests a 77% rise in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health crises. Young people and children who experience these crises often feel left behind as peers move through life’s milestones.

One of the parents added: “As a parent, I dread seeing Prom pictures from my young person’s peers as they can extenuate the feeling of loss. Seeing my young person looking so well in her beautiful dress and happy from her limo ride has soothed the potential pain for me too, so I am extremely grateful to all concerned and hope that they know how much difference these gestures make.”

The Prom was hosted at Austen House and completed by a delicious buffet for the young people, the staff and everyone involved. The buffet was served outside, under a marquee in the sunshine and was cooked by the Austen House kitchen specially for the occasion.

Modern Matron, Bethan Grundy and Clinical Ward Manager, Laura Petty reflected on what a wonderful day it was for everyone: “Austen House recognises that life is put on pause when someone is ill, so we are really pleased the young people in our care were able to experience this special milestone!

“Thank you to all local businesses who helped make the day so magical for our young people”.

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