An estimated 1 in 8 children and young people in the country – approximately 1.25 million children and young people – have at least one mental health concern and are much more likely to experience psychological distress. In addition to increasing demand on Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS), formerly known as CAMHS, children and young people who have experience of using mental health services often feel that their care is impersonal, services are not responsive to their needs, and that they are unable to be involved in their own care and treatment. Further still, for those children and young people who are not able to access CAMHS – perhaps due to a fear of asking a parent, carer or GP about their mental health, there is an urgent need for access to informal and evidence-based support.
For over 65 years Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (the Centre) has been at the forefront of children’s mental health, reforming systems and training professionals to provide the best evidence-based care and treatment for young minds. Recently, how we can more directly work with young people to ensure they are involved with and understand how to look after their mental wellbeing has become a key priority for the Centre. Our staff, in conjunction with a group of young champions, who help us to represent young people’s voices in the work we do, came together to develop an idea for a new website that would support young people by providing accessible, clinically informed advice and guidance.
The generous grant awarded to the Centre from The Pixel Fund has enabled us to develop this website from an idea into a reality. The website – On My Mind – has an emphasis on reaching those who are thinking about looking for support, who may already be receiving or waiting to receive support or those who require help and information about self-managing their own wellbeing, perhaps because ‘traditional’ offers either do not appeal or have not previously worked. Key aims of the new resource are:
To provide support so that no young person should feel like they have nowhere to turn when experiencing problems with their mental health and wellbeing.
To make mental health treatment and support transparent and easy to understand for young people.
To promote choice and shared decision making by empowering young people’s voice’s in their own treatment.
Ultimately to empower young people to have a stronger voice and better understanding of the treatments available to them, we must allow them a strong say in the development of tools and resources aimed at supporting them. All the resources for the On My Mind website have been co-produced with young people, including the Centre’s Young Champions, demonstrating what is possible to achieve when we involve young people in the conversation about their mental health. Working with them, we have been able to utilise our staff’s knowledge and expertise to create a website that can truly help young people with receiving support, understanding and looking after their mental health.
The Centre is hugely grateful to The Pixel Fund for their support to develop a new website, On My Mind, which empowers young people to make informed decisions about the mental health support they want, the treatments they receive and the outcomes they desire.