The pandemic has exacerbated the need for easily accessible online tools and resources to support the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people. We were delighted to be asked to partner with Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) to develop a youth-led, Pan-Sussex Children and Young People’s Mental Health Digital Review, funded by NHS England, which has launched today.
The youth led report aims to identify gaps in the digital provision of Children and Young Peoples’ (CYP) mental health and emotional wellbeing services (age up to 25) in Sussex and find out, from young people, how services could be improved. Our youth participation group for e-wellbeing (our digital mental health platform for young people) was involved in youth-led research to map out online mental health platforms in Sussex. The report also gained insights from other young people across Sussex from a range of services, including CAMHS, to explore perceptions and experiences of using digital mental health platforms.
Key research findings include:
- 85% said online mental health support was useful
- 66% of young people accessed online support for the first time during the pandemic
- 60% of young people said they would like a mixture of face-to-face and online support in the future
- 27% were referred to online services by their GP
- 19% had existing therapy moved online due to the pandemic
Ensuring that youth voice is at the heart of everything we do is why we were asked to be involved. Our young people came up with their own Digital Youth Ambitions and recommendations for changes to provision of mental health services. In addition, our young people regularly met with a Children and Young Peoples’ Digital Mental Health Task & Finish Group, which included directors from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT), Sussex NHS Commissioners, West Sussex County Council, and local community organisations.
Speaking about the value of this report, Nicola Harvey, Digital and Engagement Lead, YMCA DownLink Group, said:
“Our expertise lies in ensuring youth voice is always part of the process of creating mental health resources and services that actually work for young people. We are passionate about including young people in the process so that they can access the mental health services they really need, in a way that is accessible to them. Our digital platform, e-wellbeing and other, face to face digital services, have enabled us to continue supporting young people throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to build upon our existing offers and provide accessible options, to ensure we meet the needs of as many young people as possible.”
e-wellbeing Youth Ambassador, Phoebe, explained what she got out of being involved:
“I am so pleased I participated in this digital mental health review. I enjoyed attending the meetings and sharing my suggestions with senior executives from the NHS and other organisations on how they can improve services for young people.”
Becca Randell, Implementation Lead, Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, said:
“This review has enabled young people to talk about how well digital mental health services are meeting their needs and to give their view and experiences of improvements that can be made. We will work with key organisations across Sussex to ensure the digital ambitions developed by young people and the recommendations are taken forward.”
To read the full report here: Final Children Young People Digital Mental Health Review