"Together can we create a more resourceful, resilient and healthy environment to grow and learn in"
Digital team's blog
This Children's Mental Health Week, Sarah and Shahid from our co-production team talk about why they're passionate about putting young people at the centre of mental health services.
In the UK, 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5-16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. That’s about three in each class. The number of 15-16 year olds with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s. Campaigns like Time to Change have done brilliant work in reducing stigma and getting people talking about mental health, but children’s mental health services continue to have long waits and are often difficult to access, with only a quarter of the children who experience mental illness getting the help they need. So what does this mean for a charity like Rethink Mental Illness looking to meet the needs of a new generation? How can we work alongside mental health teams, education providers and young people affected by mental illness to ensure their needs are addressed at the earliest possible stage?
At Rethink Mental Illness, we believe the key is a coproduction approach that places young people at the heart of the decision-making. A joined up approach that brings together health professionals, educational staff, voluntary sector and young people with lived experience means we can design and deliver services that meet the needs of the people using them in consideration of the context they are in and whilst removing extra barriers young people might face.
Two examples of this happening already at Rethink Mental Illness are our Collected Voices project in Hammersmith and Fulham and our Step Up: Transitions project across London. These projects work with young people affected by mental illness, giving them the skills to become Young Peoples’ Mental Health Champions. Champions use their skills to co-design and deliver training to teachers, and to set up peer support trainings inside school. They also work with other services for young people with mental health needs who are going through periods of change. Our Champions work alongside health professionals to address key factors that might stop a young person accessing support, challenging barriers and providing practical tools, tips and information for young people and teachers to use to manage mental health, facilitate better communication and to get understanding of what support is out there as well as how and when to access it.
A recent survey carried out at Rethink Mental Illness found that teachers were one of the first points of call for young people looking to find support for their mental health. However experiences of doing so were both positive and negative. We believe that working alongside mental health trusts and schools, fostering knowledge and understanding about mental health for both sides of the conversations based on what young people are feeling can only be a good thing for improving mental health for young people. Only together can we create a more resourceful, resilient and healthy environment to grow and learn in.
You can read a blog from one of our Champions here, and find young people's mental health resources here.