The Rollercoaster Parent Support project provides a programme of support to parents and carers of children and young people aged 0 to 25 with emotional or mental health issues. The group was developed in 2015 by a parent with lived experience of supporting a child with mental health issues, in partnership with the local NHS specialist children and young people’s mental health service and Success (North East), a local community and voluntary sector agency. The group aims to equip parents and carers with the information and skills needed to support them in caring for their children whilst also providing a valuable support network.
The Rollercoaster Parent Support project provides a programme of support to parents and carers of children and young people aged 0 to 25 with emotional or mental health issues. The group was developed in 2015 by a parent with lived experience of supporting a child with mental health issues, in partnership with the local NHS specialist children and young people’s mental health service and Success (North East), a local community and voluntary sector agency. The group aims to equip parents and carers with the information and skills needed to support them in caring for their children whilst also providing a valuable support network. Since its development the group has evolved to include championing the role parents and carers play in both supporting their children and contributing to the development of mental health services.
To increase accessibility, two groups are offered per month, delivered from two locations, with one group in the daytime and one in the evening. The group also use social media accounts and an email network to enable the project to reach those parents who do not access the group in person, and provides a forum for local and national information sharing and online support.
The group provides an important opportunity for peer support. In Sept 2017, Rollercoaster also launched a formal peer support training programme for parents and carers, to enable them to offer individual and group support in their local areas. As well as peer support, parents and carers receive information sessions and workshops on topics relevant to the group such as positive thinking, self-harm, anxiety and stress management. Sessions typically include guest speakers, group discussion and sharing, activities and problem solving. Leaflets and a mini library with books on emotional and mental health are also available.
Co-production and participation
The group itself was developed and is led by parents. Rollercoaster has now established a Parent Advisory Group with the aim of providing a formal mechanism by which parents’ voices can be heard and included in future development, plans and service improvement. This will lead to on-going and sustainable co-development and delivery. Representatives from the group have also participated in a range of forums, events, and service development projects at both local and national levels.
Mental health champions
Rollercoaster seeks to engage with the wider children and young people’s mental health workforce to raise awareness and promote the role parents and carers play in supporting their child’s mental health. With the aim of recruiting professional mental health champions, they deliver short training sessions and presentations to services and teams working with children and young people such as social care, police, voluntary and community sector organisations. Champions can then provide support and information to other team members and can liaise with the Advisory Group around any issues and concerns. An e-network sharing group ensures they are kept up to date with service developments.
Why the project works well:
- It is led and developed by parents for parents
- It involves partnership with and support from children and young people’s mental health services
- The structure and ethos of the group allows for flexibility but also provides boundaries enabling a safe space to share
- They provide tips, strategies, and ideas for families to try and hopefully offer solutions to problems, with a fun element maintained in each group to lighten the mood
- They develop good relationships with parents based on trust through ensuring they follow up on any plans, for example, when they say they will make referrals, ring or send information they make sure they do
Top tips for commissioners and providers:
- The project takes time to establish; longer term funding is essential.
- Use a mixed approach combining groups, telephone support, email networks and social media, so that different parents and carers can access different aspects.
- A true partnership with CAMHS and other multiagency partners is essential. Whilst the group is parent driven and led, the CAMHS clinical advice and input has been invaluable. Parents report that direct access to mental health advice in an informal, relaxed setting in a group that is led by other parents has really helped them because they feel comfortable to ask questions. The CAMHS clinician also provides the parent lead with monthly supervision and support.
- Offering opportunities for co-production and development ensures services meet parents’ needs and helps parents to feel useful and valued at a time when family life can be feeling negative and chaotic.
- The parent leads within the group should have lived experience and where possible a background in child, community/family work and safeguarding training or a willingness to take part in a training programme.
|Commissioning||Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield and North Durham CCGs via Durham County Council Public Health|
|Providers||Success (North East) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation NHS Trust|
|Workforce||1 parent lead (initially voluntary now contracted via Success), parent volunteers and input from a CAMHS clinical nurse specialist|
|Population size||Circa 522143 total, 100300 aged 0 to 17 (ONS 2016 mid-year estimates)|
|Caseload||Group runs twice a month, 15-20 attend. (Over 100 different parents over 2 years)|
|Other e.g. transition, participation|