Hafal campaigns to improve mental health services for children and young people. A 2014 National Assembly Inquiry into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wales recognised that the majority of young people’s experience of CAMHS is negative, and further concluded that CAMHS ‘does not have capacity to meet the demands currently placed on it’.
Using the voices of Hafal’s service users is key to our policy work. We have a group of young people who share their personal experiences at events, in the media and at governmental level. If you would like to be involved in this group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Making Sense’ Report
In January 2016, The High Needs Collaborative (Hafal, Mental Health Foundation, Bipolar UK and Diverse Cymru) published a report in partnership with Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People suggesting ways to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wales.
The report, titled ‘Making Sense’, examines findings from a consultation the partnership held in autumn 2015. The consultation involved over 500 people, including CAMHS users, carers of CAMHS users and young people under 25.
Mair Elliott and Jake Roberts were involved in writing the report; both are Hafal representatives with experience of CAMHS. The report makes ten recommendations to improve mental health services for children and young people in Wales, based on the findings of the consultation.
When CAMHS users were asked who they would prefer to turn to for help, 56 percent said friends, 44 percent said education-counselling services and 39 percent said teachers. Three-quarters said they had a negative experience of CAMHS.
The report recommends that teachers, school, college and university counselling services, and other youth services must play a major role in supporting the well-being and development of all children and young people, including those who have mental health problems. It suggests that specialist CAMHS should only be involved with young people with the highest needs.
The recommendations are:
- 1. Expand and/or create high-quality support provided by non-mental health professionals
- 2. Don’t medicalise growing up
- 3. Reform CAMHS’ referral systems
- 4. Embed emotional intelligence and healthy coping mechanisms into the curriculum
- 5. Introduce an absolute timescale for referrals
- 6. Review practice within CAMHS
- 7. Reorganise the transition to adult services
- 8. Improve data collection and accountability
- 9. Support carers
- 10. Listen to young people
Mair and Jake discussed the report’s recommendations with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales in November 2015, and presented the final report to Welsh Government’s review of CAMHS, the ‘Together for Children and Young People Programme’, in January 2016.
Post ‘Making Sense’
After the publication of the ‘Making Sense’ report in January 2016, Mair and Jake were invited to sustain further dialogue with the T4CYP Programme Board during the course of the review. T4CYP provided a written response (view here) to the ‘Making Sense’ report in May 2016, to which the Making Sense collaborative replied to in June 2016, offering an outline of the key areas to move forward (view here).
These included: improving the use of Care and Treatment Plans (and the benefits of doing so), implementing referral criteria, and providing practical support for carers.
Mair, and Hafal’s Young People’s Communications Officer, Mike Wood, presented the report at the T4CYP Conference in summer 2016. The incumbent Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being & Sport, Vaughan Gething, referred to the report during his address at the conference, highlighting its role in the development of policy on young people’s mental health services in Wales.
Mair has since been recognised for her campaigning work to improve mental health services for children and young people. At an awards ceremony in North Wales, she won the Welsh Government’s ‘Making a Difference’ award. Watch our video nomination here:
If you would like more information about our work with young people please contact Matt Pearce.