Local Healthwatch teams lead in facilitating an independent collaboration with children and young people to improve their mental health services.

A report entitled “Thrive: Healthy young minds” has been published, about the views of children and young people and their families/carers, concerning child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

An innovative collaboration called “The Healthwatch Collaborative”, teamed up with the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board to learn how the NHS can improve CAMHS.

During May and June 2018, local Healthwatch teams organised seven events across Lancashire and South Cumbria and invited children, young people, family members, carers and health professionals to hear their views about CAMHS.

Each event focused on an aspect of child and adolescent mental health care and was designed to be highly participative. The workshops focused on crisis support, access to services, transition to adult services, the role that digital technology can play to support young people, addressing the stigma of using mental health services, care of the most vulnerable, and ensuring that services are run as an integrated ‘one stop shop’.

Over 250 children, young people, family, carers and professionals attended the events and told the Healthwatch teams and CYP Transformation Programme about their experiences and views.

At the events, participants were asked “what are the top things to fix?” for CAMHS. The newly published report of the events describes these as:

  • There isn’t enough support for young people from services.
  • People in communities and professionals need more knowledge about mental health and its impact.
  • Waiting times are too long.
  • Criteria get in the way of accessing support.
  • There need to be more options for treatment.
  • There continues to be a negative stigma about mental health.

Participants were asked to consider “what would a great service look/feel like?’’ The Healthwatch collaborative found that these were:

  • Young people would feel that they are supported by services or know they would be supported if they needed help.
  • Young people would be able to access the service they need when they need it.
  • Young people would receive the right help at the right time.
  • Young people would feel that their needs were met all the time.
  • Young people would feel that services were shaped around their needs at each stage. It would be a truly person-centred service.

Sue Stevenson, Chief Operating Officer for Healthwatch Cumbria, on behalf of the Healthwatch Collaborative, said:
“When the NHS considers making improvements to its services, it is essential that the users of those services are involved. We know from past experience and research that improvements are best recommended by those who use the services because they have knowledge, experience and insight of those services, to make meaningful recommendations.’’

David Eaton, Service Manager CAHMS Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board leading the redesign of mental health services for children and young people, said:

“All of the Trusts and the CCGs involved in improving CAMHS are passionate about those services being the best that they can possibly be.  The energy and enthusiasm from the young people, families and carers was incredible and the result is an immensely useful report with feedback that we are now acting upon.

On behalf of the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board I would like to thank everyone who took part in the events, and in particular thank the Healthwatch Collaborative for helping us with this. We are delighted with the Thrive report and look forward to continued engagement on our ideas and plans.”

Planning for the next phase of co-production is underway and you can find out the latest at: https://www.healthyyoungmindslsc.co.uk/home

Notes

  1. The Thrive Report is available https://www.healthyyoungmindslsc.co.uk/camhs-redesign
  2. The Healthwatch collaborative consists of Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Lancashire and Cumbria Healthwatch.
  3. The Children and Young People Transformation Board consists of representatives from five of the hospitals in the Lancashire and South Cumbria areas, including Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Care Foundation NHS Trust and Cumbria Partnership. The eight Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Lancashire and South Cumbria are also involved.