• 30Jan

    7-step guide to creating youth friendly mental health services

    The Mental Health Foundation have launched a new guide to help support the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 16 to 25; a critical age for the onset of mental health problems in the UK.

    The ‘how to’ guide features a seven-step programme to developing and delivering youth-friendly mental health and wellbeing services for young people. It is based on the learning and experience from Right Here, a five-year programme between the Mental Health Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation at four sites across the UK.

    The seven steps covered by the guide include the areas below, all of which can have wider application across health and care services, and information support, for young people.

    • Promote: think about how you promote and raise awareness of your service with young people.
    • Focus on activities rather than services: young people are often drawn to activities rather than services, and particularly to activities that relate to their own personal interests and hobbies.
    • Don’t be limited to traditional healthcare setting: be more creative about where mental health support is located, particularly if you are looking to engage with excluded young people.
    • Focus on sustainable supportive relationships: one of the most significant things that young people told the project is the value of having a consistent, supportive listening ear. This does not necessarily need to be a mental health professional, and a number of Right Here projects have explored the potential for youth workers to provide the consistent, supportive role in young people’s support structures. Peer support can also provide young people with a powerful opportunity to share with others who have lived through similar experiences, which can, in turn, help to reduce isolation and the stigma associated with mental health problems.
    • Involve young people in service design and delivery: the guide outlines a number of benefits following working with young people to design and deliver services including increased uptake and improved outcomes.

    The guide discusses some of the key frustrations experienced by young people who are transitioning from child to adult services, including the anxiety and stress created when they were not involved in the process from an early stage.

    It highlights the need to consult young people about what they want from mental health and wellbeing services, and shares a number of tips about how to make youth participation a reality:

    • Use creative processes to generate ideas. See www.innovationlabs.org.uk for some inspiration.
    • Recognise that young people may prefer to express their views to other young people. Consider commissioning young people to undertake research with their peers about their experiences of local services.
    • Respect and listen to the views young people express, however challenging.

    The guide can be accessed here .