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Young people tell their local Healthwatch what needs to change about mental health services


Healthwatch Hillingdon creates 10 key principles for improving services based local young people’s experiences

We spoke to Healthwatch Hillingdon to find out more.

What made you investigate this issue?

After hearing from lots of parents, carers and young people about their views on children and young people’s mental health services, we decided to do some targeted research in this area.

What did people tell you?

Parents shared their fears that the needs of their child are being ignored because, for instance, they don’t meet the threshold criteria for accessing services or have few rights in relation to treatment. Long waiting times to access services was another key issue, with more than half of parents surveyed saying they had or have been waiting longer than six months for mental health services. The vital role that schools can play in supporting children and young people with emotional distress was also highlighted. Young people said they feel enormous anxiety with key reasons including a consequence of family breakdown, body image pressure, school stress, bullying and social media.

As a result of listening to children, young people and their families, we developed 10 key principles for improving children and young people’s mental health services, to enable commissioners to provide better support in Hillingdon.

Healthwatch Hillingdon’s 10 key principles to improving mental health services for children and young people

  1. Make targets count
  2. Help schools lead
  3. Prioritise by need
  4. Share good practice
  5. Use voluntary sector expertise
  6. Develop clear pathways
  7. Care for families
  8. Engage, listen involve
  9. Be autism aware
  10. Review spending on children and adolescent mental health services

What feedback have you had so far?

Our research led to the publication of our report, ‘Listen to Me!’ in December 2014 which set out what we heard from people in Hillingdon. We have continued our work on this issue and have recently launched our follow-up report ‘Seen & Heard – Why not now?’. This came as a result of face-to-face interviews with 24 young people, 19 parents and 25 professionals, as well as surveys and published secondary data. 

Our ‘Seen & Heard – Why not now?’ report has been widely welcomed by organisations, including the NHS Hillingdon CCG, the local authority and the Health and Wellbeing Board. The findings and principles outlined in our report have been used extensively by local commissioners to inform their CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) Local Transformation Plan. Additional services are also being put in place, such as a new voluntary sector commissioned Young Minds service, which was not available before.

Central and North West London Mental Health NHS Trust (CNWL), the local CAMHS provider, has also endorsed the report and shared their support for the 10 Key principles for commissioners, in particular those that focus on drawing on expertise in the community, timely responses from specialist services and for all parties to co-operate more fully whilst people are in care.

We will work in partnership with local commissioners and the Health and Wellbeing Board to ensure sustainable improvements are delivered.

Find out more about Healthwatch Hillingdon’s work on children and young people’s mental health.

If you’d like to share your experience of children and young people’s mental health services, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.