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What is participation?

Participation is the principle that service users have an active role to play in the treatment they receive and in the services they use.

Children and young people’s participation is one of the five key principles of the CYP IAPT programme, and is essential to successful service transformation. Children and young people help to shape and improve mental health services by providing feedback on their experience of using the service. Participation also places emphasis on shared-decision making, which means that service users have an equal role to play in making decisions about their treatment, rather than passively following the recommendations made by their mental health professional.

 How do I Implement Participation in my service?

Young people and participation workers across the collaborative shared their ideas at a Young Advisors event which have been pulled together into a guide:

‘Setting Up an Involvement Group’

We pulled together lots of ideas for getting participation started, along with our own, in this participation guide:

‘Get Participating’

“You’re unlikely to get every staff member on board from day one. When you start, find as many allies as you can who are supportive of participation and build from there. As the service changes, staff will become proud of the participation work.”


On the 26th August, 2016, the CYP IAPT young advisors hosted their first Summer PIE (Participation Involvement Event), a celebration of participation work taking place across the London & South East CYP IAPT Learning Collaborative.

In this video, two of our young advisors speak candidly about their experience of involvement work in CAMHS, and share their proposal for future participation.

Great Participation Videos

Several fantastic films have emerged recently, the results of collaborations between young people, mental health providers, and film-makers and animators.  Here is a selection.

The first is from the Brandon Centre, narrated by young people who’ve accessed interventions from them, for young people who might be curious about what they can expect:

The second is the introductory video for Community Conversations, a series of frank discussions with young people, by young people, about mental health, set-up by super woman Beth Ingram.

The third is a video in a series that you can access on the BBC website, here, made with young people about their own stories, to highlight the experiences of anorexia, bullying, OCD, panic attacks, and even being a bully.

Ariana's story


Participation work has a strong history, which has led to guidance that can give your participation initiative a framework:

Opportunities banner

Please see the opportunities page for participation opportunities!

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