We want to find out more about the fantastic work taking place across the London and South East Learning Collaborative. This month, we hear from Niki Scott, Service User Participation Lead for CAMHS & CHUMS.
My name’s Niki and I’m the Service User Participation Lead for ELFT’s CAMH Services across Bedfordshire and Luton. I thought it would be good to share some of the exciting work that service users across our area have been undertaking to help improve our services and raise awareness of mental health issues in young people.
Something that came up time and again during the discussions I had with young people accessing our services was that they really did not know what to expect when coming to CAMHS for the first time. This added to their anxieties and they felt that if they had more information about who they were seeing, what we do and what they may be expected to open up about it, then it would help them feel slightly less apprehensive about their appointment and could potentially lead to a decrease in our DNA’s. They have therefore now designed an introductory letter which will be sent directly to all young people prior to their first appointment. This has been welcomed by staff and we are now monitoring the impact this will have on our service.
One of the most important parts of my role is to identify, recruit and train young people to help us with the recruitment of new staff to our services. Being involved in interview panels teaches young people new skills, increases their confidence and self- esteem and empowers them to realise that their opinions are valued and worthy. The benefits to us are that we are able to see the candidates from a young person’s perspective and know that we are employing staff approved by our service users. The young people have helped write the training programme and developed their own bank of questions and model answers. I am now looking to involve parents and carers in interview panels and am working on a separate training programme for this.
I am honoured to work with some extremely talented young people and am always delighted when their skills and expertise are recognised by other organisations. One of our service users was recently chosen to be part of an Expert Reference Group from the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health producing a guide to delivering inpatient services for children and young people with an eating disorder. Such an honour for her to be able to share her experiences and help shape the future care of other young people.
Another service user has recently worked on a project with Mosaic Film Productions who are producing a series of animated films around young people’s mental health issues. She has been brave enough to share her story of battling with Anorexia and this will provide the voiceover to a film which will be available on BBC Teach and Youtube and will be used in PSHE lessons to educate school children. A really exciting opportunity for her and another set of skills to add to her repertoire! She also writes a blog (to access it, click here) which is truly inspirational and which as a Trust we are promoting and sharing with other young people in the hope that it will help on their road to recovery.
It’s no surprise that given the talent and hard work of our young people they have now received 2 awards for their work in raising awareness of mental health in young people – A YOPEY award (Young People of the Year) and one from Concern for Mental Health a registered London Charity.
I’m very proud to work with our Young People in Bedfordshire and Luton and support them to have a voice and tackle the stigmas of mental health in young people. They have worked with our schools team to help design training for staff in education. Their feedback is currently helping us to design a new CAMHS website. We are currently developing a young person’s profile to support those transitioning from CAMHS to AMHS. I could go on but this is just some of the fantastic work I have been lucky enough support.
Words by Niki Scott, Service User Participation Lead for CAMHS & CHUMS.
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