Summary of report content
Healthwatch Sandwell undertook research into young people’s understanding and use of health and social care services. They undertook a survey to which 364 people responded and facilitated 9 focus groups involving 71 young people.
Most young people were aware of and had used GP services, dentists, and opticians. Feedback on dentists and opticians was generally positive but for GP practices feedback was largely focused on waiting times and the difficulty of accessing appointments. There had been limited use of both A&E and Walk-In Centres and again the feedback was largely concerned with waiting times within these services.
Waiting times were also an issue around accessing mental health services, however, there was also feedback in relation to the engagement with professionals and how supported and listened to young people who had used the service felt. Being listened to by professionals was a theme from the feedback across services, not just around mental health services but with GP services, and particularly around the school nurse and being able to be involved in decision making about what happened to them.
Education providers were seen as having a role in providing information, advice and guidance to students, but it was felt that they were not always sufficiently trained and informed to be able to support students in accessing services and that sometimes there was a lack of provision within schools and colleges, particularly regarding mental health support.
The need for more mental health provision dominated discussions within focus groups. The young people identified the need for lower level preventative support as well as quicker access to specialist support. It was highlighted throughout this research that young people have the skills and ideas of how the issues identified can be tackled. Many suggestions can be built upon through working directly with the young people themselves.There were 4 recommendations about the need to ensure that young people’s views were used to improve local services; raising awareness of existing services; reviewing mental health services and improving waiting times for wellbeing services for young people