A new mental health crisis service providing “short term intensive support” for youngsters has been launched in Suffolk.

The Crisis Risk Support and Intervention Service (CHRIS) focuses on self-harm and suicide prevention for youngsters up to 18 years old.

Suffolk County Council said it offered intensive support with visits several times a week to help youngsters at their greatest risk, with the idea that they can then continue in longer-term therapeutic support once their risk has stabilised.

James Reeder, cabinet member for children’s and young people’s services at Suffolk County Council, said: “The development of CHRIS is a crucial part of the overall mental health transformation plan for children and young people across east and west Suffolk.

“The key aim of the service is to provide short term intensive support to children and young people aged 0-18 when they are in a mental health crisis.

“Mental health practitioners can refer children and young people to the service which will wrap around existing support networks already in a child or young person’s life.

“We have already received some positive feedback from families who have used the service – one parent told us that she did not think her daughter would be here without the support provided by CHRIS.

“She also felt the team had supported her to have more confidence as a parent and to make decisions and as a result, she now felt more equipped to advocate for her daughter.”

Referrals have already begun from psychiatric liaison teams in east and west Suffolk

The new service is being monitored to see how it is functioning and where improvements can be made, with a summer review already planned.

After that, referrals can then be made from Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and the county council.

Children’s mental health support has come to the fore following the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but had already been a source of demand pre-pandemic.

The county’s Emotional Wellbeing Hub established in March 2018 has been inundated with referrals since its inception, having seen more than 25,000 youngsters at an average of 170 per week by October last year.

It resulted in a sizeable backlog, prompting service bosses to commission Barnardo’s and Suffolk Mind to offer immediate support for those on the waiting list.