A big project I have been involved in was involving CAMHS service users and parents, carers in co-designing a crisis service alongside CAMHS staff. My role was to facilitate this. The young people worked with CAMHS to design a crisis proposal, and get it commissioned and enhanced. This service was launched in April 2017. As part of this one of the youngsters produced a film about their experience of being in crisis and this is now being used as a training aid in Leicester A&E departmen
What We Did
My role started as a pilot project as a service user co-design coordinator and I work across families and children services. A big project I have been involved in was involving CAMHS service users and parents, carers in co-designing a crisis service alongside CAMHS staff. My role was to facilitate this. The young people worked with CAMHS to design a crisis proposal, and get it commissioned and enhanced. This service was launched in April 2017. As part of this one of the youngsters produced a film about their experience of being in crisis and this is now being used as a training aid in Leicester A&E department.
The young people wanted to remain involved and then formed Evolving Minds group which meet monthly and we also have a virtual group where young people get involved from the comfort of their smart phone. Projects they have been involved with over the last 18 months are;
Recruitment panels – helping to choose new members of CAMHS staff
Youth proofing our Health for Teens content around mental health and currently working on a CAMHS page online alongside CAMHS staff.
Youth proofing various communication and leaflets that go out to children and young people
Developed an online presence to reach out to other young people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Presented to many mental health partnership boards and commissioners about their experiences of mental health.
Wider Active Support
We have developed many partnerships over the past 12 months, particularly with targeted groups through youth work and local authorities eg Youth offending, young carers, LGBT etc and they have been supporting us to get the group details out to other young people. We also send consultation work to these groups for their voice contribution too.
School nurses have referred young people onto our group via schools and parents.
CAMHs and Evolving Minds work closely together and staff regularly attend there meetings in order to move projects forward or to feedback to the group – you said we did.
Local authority childrens centres support the venues for the meetings, and offer us a room to use out of hours where a cleaner adjusts there hours in order to lock up for us – this is the only free suitable venue we could find as we have had no budget for this work.
The CAMHS crisis service was very much co-designed with CAMHS staff and the young people now part of the Evolving Minds group. This service was launched in April 2017 and we got additional funding due to the voice of young people being central to the proposal. The young people have volunteered to be part of the evaluations in 6-months time too, using peer to peer methods for young people that have accessed it to feedback.
Staff that have been recruited to the crisis service have been interviewed by staff and young people and recruited based on mutual discussions.
The health for teens website has mental health content which has been co-designed with young people and professionals.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
Governance procedures were tricky when first setting up the group and looking at risks around involving vulnerable young people. In hindsight I wish I had of looked for examples of good practice and see how other trusts worked with governance and kept everyone happy.
Some staff found working with young people problematic as they see comments as personal, and some young people struggled to work with staff due to the possibility of having to work with their therapist.
We now have sessions where I take the information young people provide back to staff and I essentially act as the middle person. We very much work on choice and young people can get involved with as little or as much as they want. We maintain contact through emails and social media accounts which was the way young people wanted to do things.
The idea was for the group to become sustainable and I step away and there would be a main contact within CAMHS. Although we have champions within CAMHS who regularly work with the group and promote the group to other young people I have failed to persuade someone to take on the responsibility of the group. Clinical staff feel that they do not have enough time to commit to the group.
I sometimes struggle with capacity and therefore 2 of my older members of the group have started to lead on some of the sessions so that I am not always present at the group.
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
We now have a crisis service which is live whereas previously we did not.
Young people are now actively involved with contributing to communication and leaflets that go out to children and young people which previously did not happen.
We have young people on recruitment panels which previously did not happen within CAMHS.
Our health for Teens website has all been co-designed and is an award winning website.
The Evolving Minds group has grown in size, to 24 members who meet face to face and also work virtually.
The group has volunteered over 100 hours and they have just won our Trusts celebrating excellence award for Volunteer of the year award.
The young people have also really grown in confidence, from initially not being able to look me in the eye to presenting to over 100 people. While battling with their own mental health issues they have shared personal and sensitive issues to tackle the stigma of mental health.
We now have a dedicated crisis team which takes some pressure of the CAMHS team for dealing with young people in crisis.
Young people have clearer correspondence which is more young people friendly and more understandable.
Young people have another clear route to be able to feedback about the service they have accessed in CAMHS.
Staff have a clear route to be able to access young people to involve them in various projects.
I share the work the group does regularly with the wider CAMHS team and report through our patient experience pathways.