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Summary of report content

Since 2014, Healthwatch Essex has gathered the health and social care lived experience of young people in Essex through the YEAH! and SWEET! projects. The SWEET! (Services We Experience in Essex Today) project has focussed on accessing the voices of seldom heard groups who are not always engaged through traditional consultation platforms.

This study took place over six months, in which 45 inpatients, aged between 15-17 years, shared their lived experience within group discussions or one to-one conversations as well 11 staff members at the Poplar Adolescent Unit. 

It was found that young people would experience delays in accessing mental health support unless they had a basic understanding of their symptoms, the adult they spoke to understood their symptoms, a parent/teacher booked their appointment, and that the health professional agreed they needed further support. They also found that young people valued the importance of timely treatment and that These participants felt that a lack of awareness, and negative stigma, could cause a delay in seeking support and therefore also contribute to a deterioration in their mental health. There was a sense that the care they received, and the professional it was delivered by, was always changing without any satisfactory explanation. Furthermore, the young people often felt they played a passive role in their treatment, whereby, the care they received was something that was done to them, rather than done with them. It was common for many patients to experience mental illness as a result of social stressors. 

However, a number of recommendations were made in the report. These included the need for high quality engagement especially when engaging seldom heard groups. Healthwatch Essex recommends that early intervention and prevention techniques be introduced, particularly increasing mental health literacy of those involved in the lives of children. While there is no immediate solution to address staff turnover, the importance of consistent professionals in the young people’s lives must be emphasised, and commissioners, providers and frontline staff encouraged to work together to develop solutions. Shared decision making in terms of treatment and support for young people is to be encouraged. A holistic approach should be taken to support young people's mental health as physical and social factors can have a significant impact. The more we can move toward a system wide approach, wherein single professionals can coordinate and manage multiple factors of a young person’s case, the better chance we have of addressing the root cause of some mental illness, as well as accelerating recovery and, in turn, discharge from the hospital setting.

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General details

Report title 
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Essex
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 2 July, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Consent to care and treatment
Health inequalities
Holistic support
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

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

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Inpatient care
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 
16-17 years
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
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? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

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.