North West CYP IAPT Conference celebrating participation!

In March I had the pleasure of attending the CYP IAPT participation conference which brought together the collaboration of young people, children, and professionals across the North West of England. The conference really was a true example of professionals listening to young people’s voices and working together in participation and involvement with our mental health services.

It was a real privilege to attend the conference because I was able to see just how much work young people had contributed to our health service. One great example was that of two young people from CWP Cheshire East CAMHS who have become young advisors. They are now advising the trust on aspects of the services that could be improved. It was also great to see their hard work in creating projects used to reduce stigma and integrate the service into the community.

As a young person attending, I was also able to see how much my local services had achieved with MyMind, a website developed directly by CAMHS and young people. I realised the great thing about MyMind is that it never stops evolving. The website is continually growing with new resources, it’s constantly giving help to young people, parents, carers, and professionals.

I also want to emphasize how the MyMind website and twitter feed has influenced a positive ethos within CWP CAMHS. The therapists and professionals I have collaborated with are recognising that young people have important opinions, that young people and children are valuable and rather stable citizens in this chaotic society. As well as that, all of the resources on the website are teaching young people and children to take ownership, to learn self-resilience and new coping strategies, in times when there is not much funding for youth services.

MyMind is a true example of how participation in health services can have such a positive impact on patient centred care and it was great to see the achievements of the website and all of the work and effort that the young advisors have given over the past few years.

Another example of participation given at the conference was the work done by young people to integrate communication in schools. The young presenters showed how they had developed a strong link with schools in working through wellbeing issues that adolescents and children may have to cope with. The young people explained how they had created lesson plans regarding mental health and also designed a wellbeing pledge for schools to sign. This really signified how much of a difference schools can make in reducing mental health stigma and why it is so important that school staff need to have a strong awareness young people’s wellbeing.

As a young person and previous service user, I feel very passionate about the integration and development of mental health services so that they are catered towards adolescents and children, and not just adults. I am also passionate about reducing mental health stigma and I believe participation, involvement and patient centred care is a necessity in our society. I find it scandalous that so little of our budget is spent on young people’s services. If we tackle poor mental health early on, the outcome is often far more positive. I believe the only way mental health services can be of any use to young people is if professionals are prepared and willing to engage, and to let adolescents and children take ownership. If professionals are able to engage like this then young people will be far more likely to take an active role in their treatment, and their personal growth will be far greater.

Overall, the conference was an enlightening day, led by young people, and it showed how dedicated some professionals are about integrating participation so that children and adolescents can take ownership and have a voice. The conference was an important reminder in how young people’s voices are so valuable and how we can make such positive change when we have the right professionals supporting us. I can say with confidence, as a young person, I am really proud of CWP, proud of all the work from inspirational professionals and inspirational young people. Together, through participation, we really can have a positive impact on our society.

Jasmine

(Wirral CAMHS Young Person Representative)

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