Resources developed by young people

Young Devon | Creative Handouts

This work is from one of Young Devon’s young volunteers Amy (19 years old). She volunteers in their virtual Wellbeing Café, which is a space where they help young people normalise the culture of talking about how they feel and de-professionalise the idea of ‘mental health support’ to include the power of peer support and interdependence.

Young people working with Kooth

There are two audio files below:

Young Devon | The Power of Peer Support

Young Devon put together some reflections as a team and provided a video from a young woman attending their Wellbeing Café and the Children and Family Health Devon Young Leaders Group.

Find the resource here.

BBC Radio Devon have also featured Young Devon on their Breakfast show broadcasts; airing audio diaries from several of our young people, every day for a week. This incredible opportunity gave several members of their Youth Council the chance to voice their thoughts and feelings during lockdown; sharing how the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has impacted them.

Take a listen here.  

Devon CAMHS | Engaging young people from ethnic minority backgrounds

With thanks to Devon CAMHS, Robin Tay and the young people who have been involved.

“Over the last year the CAMHS Participation team have been developing some training around engaging with young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Early last year they made a successful bid to the Virgin Care Feel the Difference Fund which enabled them to work with The Global Centre in Exeter to progress this work. Robin Tay (CAMHS Participation Worker) and Sandhya Dave (The Global Centre) ran a series of workshops with young people from a variety of backgrounds (Jamaica, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Poland) discussing how different cultures can have different perceptions of mental health and how a greater understanding of this can help the service’s engagement with these communities. As well as Robin and Sandhya, the workshops were attended by CAMHS workers Cynthia Ebere-Anaba and Calvin Malcolm.

“More recently the team made a successful bid to the Chair’s Initiative fund at DPT which enabled them to make a short film which features the young people that were involved in this project, reflecting on their experiences as young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and sharing their thoughts and advice for the benefit of CAMHS workers. The film was shown for the first time at the CAMHS conference in March 2020 with two of the young people attending and answering questions from staff. The film is soon to be put onto the DPT staff intranet so that workers from across the service can access it.”

Recruiting young people and parents/carers to CAMHS participation activities

by Robin Tay, Devon CAMHS Participation Worker

There are a variety of approaches that I have found helpful when recruiting young people and parents/carers to participation work – the thing that determines what approach to take, for me,  is the principal that underpins all of this work…ideally it should be done in the way that best suits the young person/parent/carer themselves. When I first meet someone that has expressed an interest in being involved, I always stress that there are many ways to support this work and we have an open-door approach – no-one has to make a commitment to attend a group regularly (although they can of course), they can dip in and out, pick and choose the activities they would like to be involved in – we will always be hugely grateful for their help. My hope is that this will reduce any anxiety they might have about being involved and will reassure them that it’s ok to decline invitations to activities if they have more important commitments (or more interesting things to do on that occasion) – we will always value whatever contribution they can make.

As far as finding those people that are interested in being involved goes, I depend a great deal (although not exclusively) on the CAMHS clinicians I work with. We have participation champions in most of our clinical teams now and they keep participation on the agenda within their teams and encourage their colleagues to let young people and family members know about this work and the opportunities it presents. When I started in this post I got myself invited to as many team meetings as I could in order to make workers aware of participation. Once a clinician has let me know about a young person/parent/carer that has expressed an interest, I try and find out how they would like to connect with me in the first instance – for example, they might be happy for me to call or email them, they might prefer to take my contact details and get in touch when they feel ready or they might like me to join a session with their CAMHS worker if that feels more comfortable for a first meeting.  I often meet new participants one-to-one at first if that suits them – this could be at their home, their school/college, at a coffee shop or at a CAMHS centre …wherever they feel most at ease. This gives me a chance to talk in more detail about the kinds of work we do and gives them an opportunity to ask any questions and share any concerns or anxieties they might have. Most importantly it provides a space to begin to make a connection and build a relationship. I think that relationship building is one of the most important aspects of this work – having a positive relationship helps to make volunteers feel supported, valued and safe as part of our participation team.

Not all of our volunteers are CAMHS service users (or ex-CAMHS service users). We take the view that every young person is a potential service user and brings a unique perspective and wisdom to the projects we do. During my time at CAMHS we have worked closely with schools and colleges and invited students to take part in participation activities where it seems appropriate. We often work with students of health and social care that have a particular interest in mental health – as well as benefiting from their experience of being a young person, hopefully we can provide them with an interesting and valuable experience and an insight into this area of work – a win-win!

In summary, for me, the helpful things to keep in mind are building and maintaining good relationships with the colleagues and organisations that can be a link to young people and parents/carers that may be keen to get involved and to remember that one size (ie type of involvement) does not fit all as far as participation volunteering goes. Some people like to attend groups, be on interview panels, deliver staff training…some people prefer to simply provide their thoughts/ideas/feedback via text and email. Whatever method a person prefers, their input can be incredibly valuable, insightful and inspiring.