Sarah Brennan
Published:  17 October, 2008

Recently Sarah Brennan was appointed Chief Executive of the charity YoungMinds. She comes with many years experience working in children and young people's services and the charity sector, being formerly Chief Executive of Motivate, the charity working with young offenders and disadvantaged people and Director of Services at Centrepoint the youth homelessness charity

What is Young Minds about?

YoungMinds is the UK's leading children's mental health charity. Our vision is to create a society which promotes good mental health and emotional well being for all children and young people, helping them to fulfil their potential.

We produce information leaflets for children and young people, parents and professionals and use our bimonthly magazine and website to provide further information and details of emerging practice.

We also offer a free telephone helpline for parents and carers concerned with the behaviour or mental health of their child. If you are a worried parent please call 0800 0182138.The phone lines are open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and every Wednesday 6pm - 8pm.

We work with young people who have experienced mental health difficulties through our Young peoples advisory Panel Very Important Kids and an online forum Healthy Heads, to promote their views to policy makers, ministers, practitioners and commissioners. We also provide bespoke strategic and staff development services across the UK to providers and commissioners of child and adolescent mental health services.

For further information about YoungMinds work please go to

What are the biggest issues the charity has to deal with?

The two biggest issues facing YoungMinds are the stigma surrounding children's mental health and the patchy provision of mental health services. Stigma causes barriers to young people recognising their problems as well as a creating a barrier to accessing the services which can help them recover or manage their mental health

Child and adolescent mental health services are also patchy and often struggle to meet the child's needs. This is particularly apparent with the lack of provision for 16 and 17 year olds.

How did you first get involved?

I first worked with vulnerable young people, when I was helping to run summer camping programmes in North Yorkshire for children in care and loved it. I loved and admired their energy, optimism and resilience. You could say I was hooked and have worked in the field ever since.

Can you tell us about your own childhood ?

It was happy, stable - the normal rough and tumble of a busy family life.

What career path did you plan when you were at school?

I wanted to be a farmer.

Did you go to university or higher education?

Yes, I studied Sociology and Philosophy at York University. I later did a diploma in counselling and an MSC in Organisational Behaviour.

How big is Young Minds?

YoungMinds is a medium sized organisation which punches way above its weight. We have only 28 employees, yet its work is international in its reach. Which speaks volumes for the energy and commitment of the staff. It does mean we are vulnerable to funding changes, but at the same time have the ability tor remain cutting edge. YoungMinds head office is based in Farringdon, London.

We need to raise just under £2million a year to operate YoungMinds

Where does the majority of your income come from?

We are supported by a wide range of funders. Statutory funders such as the Department for Children's, Schools and Families and the Department of Health provide a large amount of funding. However we couldn't survive without the support we have from our members, trusts and individuals taking part in sponsored events.

How do you measure the success of the charity?

The key thing is whether we make a difference to children and young people with mental health issues. Providing support and information to parents and professionals is also very important, but only if it has knock on affect helping children and young people.

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