Our team of Young Advisors, since their launch in November 2014, have taken part in over 50 local, wider and national commissions, one of these being a piece of work to deliver training around young people’s mental health to A&E departments, GP surgeries and paediatric wards.
What We Did
Our team of Young Advisors, since their launch in November 2014, have taken part in over 50 local, wider and national commissions, one of these being a piece of work to deliver training around young people’s mental health to A&E departments, GP surgeries and paediatric wards. Throughout their work, from their beginnings taking part in service improvement for CAMHS as Involvement Representatives, the Young Advisors have regularly mentioned as a group the need for improved mental health training and awareness for all staff they may come into contact with, particularly around their experiences of self-harm and crisis care.
Several years on as Young Advisors this group of young people, with their own lived experiences, training and work with other young people who have experienced mental health services, were given the opportunity by Eastern Cheshire CCG to deliver such training in partnership with CAMHS Primary Mental Health Workers. As can be seen from their feedback report, the effect of this training was incredibly positive both for the attendees and the Young Advisors, including feedback that the training built staff confidence to speak to young people and that they were able to empathise with young people more and even begin discussions around their own experiences of mental health.
The Young Advisors regularly receive commissions from partner organisations of various backgrounds which, in the past, have included but are not limited to Catch 22, the Canal and Riverside Trust, Healthwatch and The Co-operative. This piece of work in particular was commissioned by Eastern Cheshire CCG responding to the need for young people’s mental health training and awareness for any staff working at GP surgeries, A&E departments and paediatric wards. Partnership working is key to the development of the work of the Young Advisors as this is how they are commissioned for their work outside of the Trust. Other teams of Young Advisors nationwide work in a similar way in which every team also works in partnership with the central Young Advisors charity to link in with national commissions.
Service user involvement is another aspect that underpins the work of the Young Advisors, as their work is all about representing the voice of young people in whatever commissions they are working on. They are essentially young people that are trained to consult other local young people on topics that matter to them to inform services in the area. The majority of the team of Young Advisors themselves actually began as Involvement Representatives of their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Crewe, joining their local Listen Up participation and involvement groups years ago to begin improving their services. From this, the group has developed to take on bigger projects developing further until the Trust acknowledged their work and trained them as the first group of Young Advisors in an NHS Trust in November 2014. Regarding staff involvement, this piece of work was developed by the Young Advisors working in partnership with local Primary Mental Health Workers from Macclesfield CAMHS to pool their areas of expertise.
Looking Back/Challenges Overcome
We were all delighted with the outcomes of this project, and it was clear that this piece of work was successful both from the point of view of those delivering the training and those receiving the training. If there was anything that could have been done differently, we would have pushed more for as many GP surgeries to be involved so that perhaps those that were more hesitant to get involved, or did not at all, would be encouraged to do so as it could be argued that it is these particular places could be where the training would be needed the most. It is worth noting that within the area the training was commissioned for, the A&E department and paediatric ward (Macclesfield) were particularly keen with uptake so in this sense commissioning to deliver training beyond Cheshire East could have improved our range of delivery here.
The most challenging aspect of this piece of work was to ensure that the training was delivered in such a way that encouraged the learning of staff that had been in difficult situations with young people experiencing mental health issues without causing any reason for them to be defensive. This was highlighted in particular in the training delivered to the paediatric ward staff, as they had in the weeks prior to the training experienced a particularly difficult situation where a young person staying on the ward had been difficult to help and had explicitly self-harmed on the ward in front of children, causing distress. The Young Advisors delivered this training sensitively and diplomatically, already having had the experiences of delivering training to other staff and being aware that certain situations could have been very difficult for them.
Our next steps would be to share the report our team produced following the training with our commissioners, Eastern Cheshire CCG, in the hope that this could perhaps encourage other areas to follow this example and commission for young people to deliver similar training.
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
The evaluation of this work came from the staff attending the training themselves, with over 152 feedback responses from the 14 sessions of training delivered. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and is captured in a report which the Young Advisors are more than happy to share.
There were 14 sessions overall which generated a total of 152 feedback responses. Of those who gave feedback 87% circled the word helpful when asked to describe their feelings at the end of the session, 91% found the training interesting, and 67% described it as constructive. Some further responses at this early stage indicated changes in practice to support young people with mental health issues at local paediatric wards, A&E and GP surgeries. These included issues such as taking more notice of young people and awareness and mental health, communication and showing the young people they care.
Yes – the Young Advisors share their work regularly using various avenues, for example reporting back to their commissioners, submitting to the Trust Big Book of Best Practice and linking in with the national central Young Advisors charity.