Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Nov 2019 - Aug 2020

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Darlington’s ‘What’s important to you ‘survey’ 2019 highlighted for the second consecutive year in a row that children and young people’s mental health was still a priority for service users living in Darlington, and decided to revisit the issue in 2020. They spoke to 877 people via a survey and focus groups.

When analysing the findings both young people and parents indicted that they mostly used CAMHS but this was often with another service such as a school counsellor. Overall, the waiting period is still too long, with some individuals reporting more than 9 months wait after an initial appointment. Whilst the waiting target is something that might take time to improve, a number of suggestions were made as to how to improve information and support during the waiting period.

Both young people and parents felt that body image and bullying were key contributors to poor mental health. Many young people would go to a parent/carer for support and help with these issues. A proportion of parents didn’t know where to go for this information, which suggests that this is not always the best option for support.

Young people had a sound knowledge of what was available within the educational setting to help support their mental health with a range of support identified. However, a larger proportion of parents were unsure of what support was available. This might be a problem for some young people who rely more heavily on a parent for support in school/college to get the help they need. Many feel more education and awareness is needed within schools.

When talking to both young people and parents about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have strongly indicated that when it comes to healthcare appointments in the future, the choice is important and that face to face must remain an option, especially when it comes to mental health. The ‘Attend anywhere’ scheme has helped young people with choice during the pandemic but when it comes to more choice as lockdown eases they would have a preference for face to face.

Young people who have used services for mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic have reported a mixture of experiences.  They feel that sometimes the service was not suitable. Some families have felt that communication between services and schools has been disjointed and that this need improving in the future. As the research was undertaken in the summer of 2020, people were worried about returning to school/college and whether they will get enough support.

The report contains 12 recommendations aimed at improving mental health services for children and young people both generally and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report also contains a response from providers outlining the action they intend to take as a result of the research.

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General details

Report title 
Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Nov 2019 - Aug 2020
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Darlington
Date of publication 
Monday, 14 December, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 November, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 31 August, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Digitalisation of services
Holistic support
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Focus group
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Mental health services 
Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of long term conditions 
Mental health condition

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.