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CAMHS Alumni

CAMHS Alumni formed in August 2017 and completed three phases of work over an 18 month period. The group, having had their own personal experience of significant mental health difficulties, wanted to allay anticipatory anxieties for young people (and their families) accessing the service.  CAMHS Alumni members were extremely generous with their knowledge, skills and time, completing all work with the CAMHS facilitator and overcoming many barriers, such as having very limited resources.

At what level did the PPI take place?

  • One to one
  • Group
  • Service development/delivery

PPI helped the project to:

  • Improve quality
  • Increase ownership

Background

CAMHS Alumni formed in August 2017 and completed three phases of work over an 18 month period. The three phases of the project included: (1) producing a walk around video of the CAMHS facilities; (2) Creation of a mural through the CAMHS facility; (3) Development of an attachment to initial assessment appointment letters.

The group having had their own personal experience of significant mental health difficulties, wanted to allay anticipatory anxieties for young people (and their families), accessing the service.  CAMHS Alumni members were extremely generous with their knowledge, skills and time, completing all work with the CAMHS facilitator and overcoming many barriers, such as having very limited resources.

Aim of involvement

Young people and their families often reflect that the journey to Tier 3 CAMHS is a difficult one. Many service users arrive to their initial appointment having accessed several different services; engaged in an assessment several times; met many professionals; and are desperate for help. The young people involved in the CAMHS Alumni project had a positive experience of CAMHS but could clearly remember the fears, anxieties and trepidation prior to attending the service. They were eager to support young people and their families to harness hope and to allay anxieties in these early stages of their CAMHS experience.

Method(s) of Involvement

Focus groups

CAMHS Alumni committed to fortnightly and then monthly workshops over a 1.5 year period. Through appreciative enquiry, the group formulated a vision for the future and engaged a task and finish approach to the project. All members were involved the in design and production process.

Challenges

Recruiting young members proved challenging in the first instance, however, once this was achieved a group identity was consolidated and creativity blossomed. These young members had a range of other commitments such as education, employment and family and as such, flexibility and transparency was paramount. Evenings and weekends proved most accessible for workshops, requiring the CAMHS facilitator to work additional hours to their normal working week. Transport also had to be facilitated by the CAMHS facilitator and often across a large catchment area in the South Eastern Trust area. All young members had an experience of significant mental health difficulties and considerable efforts were made to meet their needs and harness their full potential. This was clearly achieved and celebrated within the CAMHS service. However, there was only one CAMHS facilitator to support this. An additional facilitator would have been beneficial.

A further challenge was that monies could only be accessed through petty cash, which was only issued on a monthly basis. This was particularly difficult when completing the mural due to the cost of paint etc. All young people were not paid for their participation despite having worked long hours during the video and mural production.

Outcomes due to involvement

    • CAMHS Alumni met with the Lisburn CAMHS Team. They provided feedback and recommendations regarding the Lisburn CAMHS waiting area and therapy rooms and improvements were subsequently made. The group wrote a script and coproduced a walk around video for the Lisburn and Downpatrick sites, which was subsequently posted on SEHSCT facebook and YouTube.
    • A mural was designed and painted within the Lisburn CAMHS clinic, specifically in the entrance hall, corridors and waiting room. The before and after pictures were posted on SEHSCT facebook page. PPI funding was awarded following completion of this mural and has been used to make further improvements to the waiting area and therapy room. CAMHS Alumni have certainly achieved their vision of creating a warm and welcoming environment within the CAMHS service, Service user feedback is very positive and the walk around video has increasing views daily.
    • An attachment to initial appointments letters is currently being designed. This attachment will contain Facebook and YouTube links to the walk around video, which can be viewed by children/young people prior to attending the service for the first time. A photo of the clinician with whom the young person will attend an assessment with will also be included. Families and young people have reported difficulty finding Lisburn CAMHS and for this reason an additional attachment containing photos of the building, signs and clear directions will be included.

Feedback/quotes from service users/carers involved

Members of CAMHS Alumni have repeatedly expressed gratitude having had the opportunity to support other young people struggling with their mental health. They have reflected on the sense of achievement in making their vision come to fruition. Parents/carers of the CAMHS Alumni members have commented on how they have seen their children’s confidence grow . The young people have expressed how proud they are of themselves and how their parents/carers have shared this also.

Timeframe

August 2017 to present.

Further Information

For further information, contact:
Kirsty Quigg (Senior Social Work Practitioner)
Email: Kirsty.Quigg@belfasttrust.hscni.net
Tel: 028 92 501265