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Talk to us 0330 355 1285 enquiries@healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk


Making mental health support better for young people more at risk of mental illness


Young people need more flexible, creative solutions to give them the information and support they need to stay mentally well.

Minding Us report

Our new report, ‘Minding us: Improving services for young people at greater risk of mental ill heath’ tells the stories of young people's experiences of mental health services and what they want to change. 

It is part of an important project to help re-design local mental health services for children and adolescents.

We collected the experiences and ideas of more than 90 young people, including young carers, young people who had been sexually exploited, and young lesbian and gay people. Many had experienced one or more difficult life challenge, for example, dealing with prejudice, isolation or abuse.

At least one in three of the young people told us they had previously used mental health services.

Long waiting times were often a problem. Sometimes, young people experienced worsening mental health whilst they waited for an appointment.

Where young people go for information

Young people told us they want to talk to someone they can trust to get information about mental ill-health. Over 70% of young people would talk to a trusted adult, for example a teacher, parent, or friend.  There was a worry amongst some  that parents and teachers didn’t know enough about mental health to be able to help them.

What young people want from support

The challenges in some of the young people’s lives means they need more flexibility with access to appointments. This would help them avoid being discharged too soon from services followed by a rapid need for a re-referral.

When we asked about therapy, most young people wanted face to face counselling in a place that suited their needs, for example at home, in a cafe, or a drop-in.  There was interest in creative therapy options, with one young person saying that 'somewhere I can be creative' was important to them.

The quality of the relationship with the person giving support is important. They want to have the time to build trust with a therapist.

Online chat and video options were also popular with over one in five of the young people we spoke to.

Emma Amez, our project worker, who led this project said,

‘This report shows the need to do things differently for young people and those around them to give them the support they need before they reach crisis level.

'Young people are telling us very clearly that they need services that are flexible and creative, so they can drop in and get support when and where they need it.'

'It is important to educate young people and those around them about mental health. We need to break down the stigma of mental illness and say, it is OK to get help if you need it.'

Wendi Ogle-Welbourne, Corporate Director: People and Communities, Peterborough City Council, Chair of the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Board for Children and Young People, said,

‘It is fantastic that young people have been able to tell us what and how they want to be helped with their mental health. The views of young people are important to us as it will help professionals to think about how we commission and deliver services in the future.’

‘It is clear from the feedback from young people that we have to help professionals in universal settings such as schools to understand better how to help young people with mental health needs as they are often the people young people trust and want to talk to.’

How young people’s mental health services are changing

Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health services are changing to better meet the needs of young people. The changes are based on a framework of care called i-THRIVE. 

This project was done to help health and care commissioners with the re-design and were funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group. We are keeping in touch with the commissioners to see how young people’s opinions are being taken into account within the re-design of the services.

Click here to find out more about new and developing young people’s mental health services.

If you have an experience of young people’s mental health services, either for yourself or for someone important to you, please tell us about it. You can call us on 0330 355 1285, email us on enquiries@healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk or feedback online here


Minding Us report