We are pleased to be able to publish the full report on our findings following our viewseeking about Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services in Dorset 2020.

Extract from the report:

It was such a pleasure in the early part of 2020 between January and March (just ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic) to be out and about meeting people who are interested in children and young peoples (CYP) mental health including young people themselves. Thank you all very much for sharing so openly your views, thoughts and ideas about how CYP mental health services can be improved.  

We went to where you were and visited a diverse range of groups to capture your experiences of mental health services. This included visits to schools, young people’s support groups, parent carer groups, youth groups and many more. On the advice of young people, we purchased Instagram to ensure the survey was promoted across various social media channels. We also worked closely with local organisations and communication networks to ensure as many people as possible could access the survey and give their views.

Your feedback has been collected into this themed report so that there is a strong point of reference for the future developments of CYP MH services. Some of your views supported existing or emerging programmes of work; for example, there were many comments about how difficult things are for families when a child or young person needs an assessment related to autism. Already we have started work on this and later this year it is likely that some of you will be able to help design this service. 

There were many views about mental health support in schools and this is another area of priority locally. We now have three teams across Dorset working in schools. These teams are just starting to get going and although not available in all schools, there is a plan to increase the number over time. Your views will be welcome about how these teams can work.

Another example of where your views have helped to inform our plans, is to increase CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) age up to 25 years old to remove the difficult transition to adult mental health services at the age of 18. This is an NHS plan for 2023 but your views have helped  us to start developing those plans much sooner. 

Many of you told us about how long people have to wait to see a CAMHS worker. A result of this is the development of a service in Bournemouth and Poole called the Gateway. All referrals will go to the Gateway. This will be tried in Bournemouth and Poole and if it works it will be extended to the whole of Dorset. The aim will be to increase the number of CYP who can see CAMHS workers and try to make sure that no young person waits for longer than four weeks. In that there is still ability to see young people urgently when needed.

Read the full report here

Healthwatch Dorset complemented our findings, by visiting youth groups and local organisations to gather  feedback and seek the views of young people who don’t always have a strong voice. This was an opportunity for young people to make a real difference to the way mental health services for young people are set up and delivered. Our engagement focused on young people who are excluded from school, young offenders, care leavers, young asylum seekers and young people who are experiencing homelessness. We carried out face-to-face engagement activities with young people at various organisations and youth groups across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset. We spoke to a total of 23 young people, aged 14-20 years.

Read Healthwatch Dorset’s full report here.

The next steps now will be working with young people, families and professionals to design and improve aspects of the services. We will keep updating the Your Mind Your Say website.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact me on the details below.

Written by Casey Townsend

Engagement and communications coordinator