Local charity raises funds to make Haywards Heath mental health hospital more comfortable for young people

A local charity is helping to bring activities and home comforts to young people during their stay in a specialist mental health hospital.

Rockinghorse, a Brighton-based charity which raises vital funds to improve healthcare services and resources for children and young people in Sussex, is funding a yearlong activities programme at Chalkhill hospital in Haywards Heath. 

Chalkhill is a specialist mental health hospital for children and young people up to the age of 18, based on the Princess Royal Hospital site. The service, which is provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, offers mental health treatment and support for young people who are experiencing acute mental health and emotional difficulties, such as depression, eating disorders and psychosis.

Nik Mansfield, Matron at Chalkhill, said: “The Rockinghorse Activities Programme was first launched at Chalkhill in 2015 and over the years has made such a difference to the support we are able to give to the young people that we work with, and really complements the clinical work and education programme that we provide.

“The activities are varied, ranging from graffiti workshops to professional cupcake decorating. We also have an enrichment programme for the young people who are able to go off-site, which include activities such as animal care and rock climbing. 

“Rockinghorse’s funding has also helped us to buy self-soothe and distraction items to help young people reduce their distress and are an important part of helping to prevent them from self-harming. One of the most recent items they have funded is weighted stuffed animal toys. Young people can place one of the animals on their lap and it applies a calming pressure, helping to provide comfort, reduce excessive fidgeting and support improved focus and concentration.

“We are so grateful to Rockinghorse for the support that they have given, and continue to give, to Chalkhill and the young people who come into hospital. Many of the young people we work with are inpatients, who are not yet well enough to go home for periods of leave, so Rockinghorse’s generous contributions make such a difference to the experience that we are able to give them, helping to provide the therapeutic benefit of meaningful and enjoyable activities.

“Rockinghorse is now working with our services to understand how the support they give to us at Chalkhill could be widened to our community child and adolescent mental health services.”

Rockinghorse was founded in 1967 with the aim of helping to improve the lives of sick children throughout Sussex.

Ryan Heal, Chief Executive for Rockinghorse, said: “Here at Rockinghorse, we believe in giving opportunities to all young people which is why we work closely with Chalkhill by funding the Rockinghorse Activities Programme.

“With the support of our marathon runners and challenge event participants this year, we’re raising funds to directly make a difference to young people who rely on the services of Chalkhill.

“Since the programme was launched in 2015, it has proven to be a great success and hugely important in the recovery of young people being treated for serious mental health conditions. Access to leisure activities are vital to help enhance a young person’s psychological, emotional, social and physical well-being, and we’re proud to be part of that journey.”

For more information about Rockinghorse and how you can get involved and support their fundraising, go to www.rockinghorse.org.uk.