FRESH – helping young minds find a better place (ARCHIVED)

Team FRESH is a young person’s participation group who meet weekly with Alder Hey staff on a voluntary basis to share and realise their awesome ideas for developing and energising Liverpool’s Alder Hey CAMHS (now called Liverpool FRESH CAMHS by the way!) They also design and run mental health promotion campaigns ‘by young people for young people’. These particular young people range from 13-19 and all have experience of mental health services.


  • From start: Yes
  • During process: Yes
  • In evaluation: No


  • Peer: No
  • Academic: No
  • PP Collaborative: Yes

What We Did

Team FRESH is a young person’s participation group who meet weekly with Alder Hey staff on a voluntary basis to share and realise their awesome ideas for developing and energising Liverpool’s Alder Hey CAMHS (now called Liverpool FRESH CAMHS by the way!) They also design and run mental health promotion campaigns ‘by young people for young people’. These particular young people range from 13-19 and all have experience of mental health services. It is an open group and has now been running for two fabulous years. Amongst the Team FRESH aims are:

Smashing the stigma surrounding mental health problems to both educate their peers and to ease access to services when needed;

Improving service user experience by updating the image of Alder Hey CAMHS and having a web-presence with multiple functions;

Promoting emotional well-being through the use of social media, the web and campaign messages;

Becoming mental health activists

In 2014 FRESH CAMHS, committed to service user involvement, had long been aware of a need to improve their presence within the Trust and also their outward facing image. Probably the kick-start to Team FRESH was the Trust signing up to the Children & Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies agenda (CYP IAPT). However, we couldn’t have anticipated what happened next as the young people got hold of their invitation to participate.

In April 2014, they immediately made a strong personal commitment to transforming the way we do things in Liverpool. They took ownership, set their own priorities, and were determined to be taken seriously. With this in mind they developed a Participation Charter with a zero tolerance on tokenism and became the first service users ever to present to the Trust Board. With the charter signed off they set about developing a campaign and marketing strategy alongside Alder Hey Communications Team and local award-winning design company Kaleidoscope (who loved the team so much they gave loads of pro-bono work and even offered internships).

The FRESH Campaign was intended to do the following: Promote FRESH CAMHS to increase public understanding and awareness of its services
; Start smashing stigma around children and young people’s mental health

; Help other young people by giving them information they need, making them feel better about their situation and ultimately helping them to self-refer.

The Key Messages for the campaign decided upon by the young people were: Lots of people feel the way you do
It’s OK to ask for help – encouraging people to reach out
Don’t be afraid to speak out;CAMHS is not scary;
Working with CAMHS helps you understand what’s going on in your head;
CAMHS is like an independent friend who will listen to you – anonymously, safely and without stigma;
CAMHS can help you find better ways to cope;
CAMHS helps children and young people to change their lives – we can show you how. These messages are at the core of all activities undertaken by Team FRESH and they remain determined in their mission two years on.

In the past two years Team FRESH have achieved a lot (including massive personal therapeutic changes incidental to the process). They’ve actively influenced decisions about estates and have got stuck in with staff recruitment (having changed CAMHS Trust Policy to ensure a young person is on every recruitment panel). As well as attending a variety of events and conferences, in their first year Team FRESH worked tirelessly on four main work streams. Every element of the plan involved constant engagement and co- creative consultation, with Team FRESH driving the agenda and causing significant shifts within the organisation (Sir David Henshaw, Chairman of the Trust Board has said that Team FRESH have changed the way the Trust view participation!). Staff have been so enthused as to be happy to work out of hours to accommodate school commitments.

Essentially, staff work for and with Team FRESH rather than Team FRESH working for Alder Hey. The four work streams were: Producing a young-person-friendly information leaflet (you’d have to see it to appreciate how cool it is!)
; Designing and producing promotional merchandise (pens, badges, stickers, posters, balloons, mugs, t-shirts and frogs)
; Running social media campaigns (e.g. #mymoodselfie, #howyoufeelin, #nameourfrog, #smashingstigma, #FRESHlogic, and #christmascountdown)
; Designing and producing an interactive website for young people

Each of these work streams came to fruition, all wrapped in a consistent Brand Identity with common values, tone and image (and usually accompanied by our friendly mascot Phileas the Frog!). Most pertinent to this award entry are the latter two work streams that I’ll have a go at describing in a minute.

Team FRESH, whilst ‘often’ open to compromise, have continued to enable Alder Hey to be flexible and creative with policies and bureaucracy: placing great trust in the young people to be key decision makers regarding organisational image, reputation and the use of a significant budget. Specific to this award, Team FRESH have authorised themselves consistently, including breaking the rules by making their own Twitter account (now regularly re-tweeted by @AlderHey). The @FreshCAMHS twitter (run by the young people, with some moderation from select staff) has over 1,500 followers and has over 350,000 tweet impressions with an average engagement of roughly 6%.

The Twitter account is a key engagement tool of the group and has been the vehicle for several awesome campaigns with their own hashtags. During the official launch of FRESH on 20th May 2015, one of the ‘calls to action’ was to ask members of the public to post a #mymoodselfie on social media to get people talking about mental health and asking people #howyoufeelin. The virtual launch was supported strongly via existing Alder Hey channels (Twitter, Facebook, Staff Intranet, Staff Newsletter and Press Release) and the minimum ‘reach’ for this was over 80,000 on the day. The hashtag has also been used by many including the Chief Executive of Alder Hey, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Local Members of Parliament, The Shadow Minister for Mental Health, a few well known locals, other NHS Trusts and even pets.

Another key social media campaign has been the ‘I’ve got mental health’ posts, initially used for World Mental Health Day 2015. During this campaign, Team FRESH engaged members of the public face to face and asked them to post a picture to social media holding a sign that makes it clear that EVERYONE has mental health. There are currently a couple of hundred such pictures and some of them have been made into a video that features on the Team FRESH YouTube account, as well as forming part of a Mental Health Awareness lesson plan developed and delivered by the group in local secondary schools.

Other Twitter based campaigns include ‘flooding’ the unhelpful #CAMHSLogic hashtag with alternative narratives and #FRESHLogic. There was also a popular #ChristmasCountdown campaign that provided mental health information and resilience tips each day over advent 2015.

Team FRESH managed another Alder Hey first when they broke the rules by getting their website agreed The team worked with a local award winning web design company, Studio Mashbo to create a website that was informative, interactive and which would improve patient experience whilst also providing anti-stigma messages. The website begins by asking the visitor firstly #howyoufeelin and then providing that visitor with reassurance that they are not alone. The visitor is then asked how they would like to feel (rather than being told how to feel instead). Team FRESH had the groundbreaking idea of gamifying ways to change the visitor’s mood. There are also ways in which the visitor can actively contribute to the development of the website by suggesting #positivevibes, and playlists via the Twitter account. Another groundbreaking idea (to sit along more traditional ideas such as FAQ sections and information specific to the service) was for each staff member to have a profile page as Team FRESH were aware that not knowing anything about your therapist can be daunting.

Currently the website has been accessed over 6,000 times with visitors accessing 4 pages per visit on average. There has been very positive anecdotal feedback. The website has been shortlisted for several awards including the Big Chip Awards and the Digital Leaders 100.

Finally, in terms of digital innovation. Team FRESH participated in the ‘Hacking Children’s Health’ event with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Alder Hey where the FRESH Air app was born (shhhh…it’s still in development!). The plan with this app is to further ease access to information, further promote resilience building, further gamify mental health management and improve efficiency of therapy. Team FRESH have got the support of Alder Hey, a technology agency and venture capital monies to hopefully take this UK wide (and beyond!).

So, back to the question…FRESH makes a difference in a number of ways: personally for the team members in terms of their own mental well-being and growing confidence (three of the older members became official volunteers and are now due to go off to train in mental health careers); organisationally for Alder Hey’s engagement with the public and its image; and wider still in terms of the impact on those individuals who encounter the campaigns, the website and the lesson plan. Team FRESH is firmly embedded and trusted by Alder Hey to continue to make changes, posit challenges and to continue helping young minds find a better place.

Wider Active Support

Liverpool FRESH CAMHS is part of a wider Liverpool CAMHS Partnership, which is a joining up of a variety of partner agencies to ensure that young people get the service and skills most suited to their needs. This includes: The ADHD Foundation, Barbados Young Carers, Advanced Solutions, Young Person’s Advisory Service, PSS Spinning World and Merseyside Youth Association.

FRESH, has a commitment and support from each of these agencies in addition to support from Liverpool CCG, having met with commissioners. Team FRESH regularly join forces with the partner agencies for events such as Liverpool Light Night, the NOW Festival and World Mental Health Day. One current such project is helping to organise the North West CYP IAPT Participation Conference


Team FRESH is a young person’s participation group. I would go so far as to say they involve us staff rather than the other way around! FRESH is a group that is run by young people for young people. Staff from CAMHS are present in a facilitative and co- constructive role.  FRESH young people have set their own priorities and agendas. They have taken ownership of transforming CAMHS and challenging stigma. Specifically, the young people have worked directly and more or less independently with Kaleidoscope Advertising, Marketing & Design Company to develop CAMHS’s ‘brand identity’ and to design and ‘bring to market’ a range of promotional merchandise and a stunning information leaflet for young people. Merchandise is all in keeping with the ‘brand identity’ and closely overseen by the group. They have produced balloons, badges, stickers, mugs, pens, and a cuddly frog. FRESH also worked with Studio Mashbo, a web design company, to spell out their ideas for the look and feel and also design the interactive elements. All of this has always been with service user’s experience and potential needs in mind.

Decisions about rebranding were all done in conjunction with staff consultation and ‘market research’

Looking Back/Challenges Faced

All in all I believe that the project has gone very well. Perhaps the only things that we would do differently would be as follows. Establish an effective way of saying ‘no’ to projects that would detract from the overall aims of Team FRESH. Perhaps by establishing a more effective action plan with timescales we would have achieved things quicker.

Establishing a way of addressing the role of older members of the group and an induction process earlier would have bee helpful. We now have a ‘job description’ for the over 18s in the group that promotes them as mentors and group leaders for various task and finish groups. We are also working on an official induction pack to ensure that young people know what they are signing up for, why, and what has already been done. It is hoped that this will address the issue that sometimes arises where group sessions can become more ‘youth group’ or ‘therapy group’ like.

Another issue would be that had I known just how much the young people wanted to get done and at what pace, I would have argued for more time in staff job plans! However, I really don’t mind working out of hours.

Given the elements of the project that is done online or using software and technology and the involvement of outside agencies,I would advocate for staff to have some training in business and techie type things.

The first challenge was to get backing (organisational as well as financial) from Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. This was accomplished by the young people telling their stories and inspiring the Board.  Financial challenges have been addressed by clearly asking for what is needed with the backing of reasoned decision making and an overall goal. The charm of FRESH in securing donations and discounts has been extraordinary.

Despite two of the group having been under Mental Health Act Section during the process, and the majority of the group in active therapy they have continued to be able to contribute and thrive through their involvement in making a positive change.


Team FRESH is so embedded and valued within the service that it is sure to continue. As members of CYP IAPT there is also a service level expectation of continued transformation of CAMHS and service user engagement.  FRESH, its work and its messages are collectively held. The group is expanding and each new arrival fully takes on the mission of what is being attempted as well as bringing FRESH new ideas.

FRESH is signed up to at an organisational level with a number of key staff members at a variety of levels supporting the work and keeping the messages alive. Participation is central to how FRESH CAMHS will continue to move forward. There is now also an ongoing relationship between MASHBO and Team FRESH…they’re working on independent projects!


Team FRESH has not been formally evaluated.


Our work is shared regularly through social media and through the North West CYP IAPT Participation group. The website is publicly accessible and the leaflets produced have been disseminated throughout Liverpool.  The lesson plan is available through the Liverpool FYI website and also on Ed Net for anyone to access and use.

Is there any other information you would like to add?

I just think it’s totally mind-blowing that a group of young people with mental health issues and no experience of marketing, PR or web design have got this far! Making the DL100 list has been so amazing for them and they are pushing forwards with other digital projects. To win this category would surely catapult them onwards and upwards!  I’m not sure if it’s relevant but the website only cost £8k to develop with young people doing internship work with Mashbo and Mashbo giving lots of pro-bono work.


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