Review of online mental health support for children and young peopleDownload (PDF 1.66MB)
Summary of report content
During the Covid-19 pandemic Young Healthwatch Wiltshire reviewed the Barnardo’s On Your Mind and Wiltshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) mental health websites with the aim of identifying what information was useful and relevant, what was good about the websites, and what could be improved for young people.
The most common theme with both websites was that although the pages were a good starting point, they often did not go into enough detail. The young volunteers found helpful resources, but they were not being used throughout both the CAMHS and On Your Mind websites. This meant that the overall experience of using the pages felt inconsistent.
The inclusion of contact details for other services was good, with resources such as helplines and more extensive information available. This was especially useful for scenarios where the information on the websites did not have enough detail. The website most frequently mentioned throughout the website reviews, and in Zoom meetings to review the findings, was Young Minds. This was such a recurrent finding that the young volunteers agreed it would be better to simply access Young Minds directly and that is what they would currently recommend to young people.
A positive theme throughout was that the information available on both websites was good quality and helpful, especially for the better-known conditions such as anxiety and self-harm. There was a range of information from descriptions and definitions, coping techniques and advice, and where to get help.
Another positive theme with both websites was the clarity on how to access urgent support. This information was easy to find and clear wherever you were on the websites, not just on the homepage. There was also a range of emergency support available in the event of a mental health crisis including 999 and 111, helplines, GPs, CAMHS locations, and other organisations (Papyrus, Childline, Samaritans and Young Minds).
There were some gaps in information. For some scenarios it seemed that the websites were only skimming the surface and that more difficult elements of mental health weren’t explored properly, or simply weren’t addressed at all. For example, there was lots of information on anxiety and depression, but less on schizophrenia, psychosis and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There was also a problem with grouping disorders together (such as Eating Disorders, PTSD, and Bipolar Disorder).
The volunteers also assessed the navigability of the websites and overall look and feel. The young volunteers found that both websites had a lot of information about Covid-19 and that the information was both reassuring and helpful for young people and their parents/carers.
One thing that both websites had in common was the lack of a chat facility. It was stated that this would be very useful as a peer support tool for children and young people struggling with their mental health so they could talk to each other in a safe and non-judgemental setting.
The report contains 12 recommendations to CAMHS and Barnardos about making their websites better for young people.