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Being Happy, Being Me - new young people's mental health report


Being Happy, Being Me report coverNew report looks at young people’s attitude towards and understanding of mental health in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

We have used Mental Health Awareness Week to launch ‘Being Happy Being Me’, our new report into young people’s mental health. In it, young people tell us what they think about the language that is used to describe mental health, what their experiences of services have been and how they would like to get help if they need it.

The Being Happy, Being Me project has been undertaken to help local commissioners re-design local mental health services for children and young people.

Rita Nunes and Emma Amez, our project workers, found that young people can be confused about the words we use to describe mental health and wellbeing. Words like thriving and resilience were not commonly understood. More needs to be done to address issues around stigma and encourage young people to understand that mental health is something we all have and need to nurture.

As part of our project, Rita and Emma spoke to over 500 young people at four secondary schools in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Around one in seven of the young people who shared their thoughts with us told us that they had had experience of using mental health services.  They also shared with us some of the things that would help make mental health support work well for them. 

One young person said, ‘Mental health to me needs to be recognised more in young people and dealt with as some can be scared to come forward or embarrassed / ashamed about talking to someone.’

More than half wanted to get information about staying emotionally healthy from an adult they knew or trusted, for example their parents, friends or a professional.  If they needed counselling, most preferred the option of face to face counselling, although there was interest in getting counselling online.

Most strikingly, the quality of the relationship with the person giving support was important to young people. They want to be listened to and respected when they talk to someone about their mental health.  There were worries about being patronised.

One young person told us, ‘People should feel safe when they ask or /and get help. Support is most important thing to them.’

Teachers also spoke to us about their own concerns about how pupils’ mental health problems are sometimes dealt with by local GPs.  For example, one child was hearing voices and the parents were told to go back to their school for a referral. Teachers were concerned about a lack of counselling support available in schools. They wanted more training to help them better support pupils who were struggling emotionally.

This project is part of a programme of work with young people to help local health and care commissioners understand what will help young people keep emotionally well and cope with difficulties in life.

It was funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City, Council and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group. They are working together to develop a new way of providing mental health care for young people, called ‘I-THRIVE’.  They will be using the information from this piece of work to help inform how services are developed for local young people.


Being Happy, Being Me Final Report