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Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – HPFT CAMHS Youth Council

09 Feb 22

We all know how important it is to look after children and young people’s mental health. As part of our work supporting children and young people through our CAMHS teams, we have a Youth Council that is made up of young people who have used our services. The Youth Council was established for young people with lived experience, and is central to the redesign of services and support for other young people with mental health issues.

The Youth Council aims to:

  • Challenge stigma and raise awareness of mental health issues and the challenges young people face / experience.
  • Ensure that young people who are experiencing mental health struggles know that they are not alone.
  • Make a difference to the lives of other young people by having a voice in how the services they use are structured and provided.

The Youth Council meets once a month and is made up of CAMHS service users aged between 12-21yrs who have a range of experience of acute, inpatient, home treatment and community-based care. The Youth Council is involved in many activities including facilitating workshops and events, presenting to stakeholder groups, training staff and other agencies (and much more). Every young person is trained in facilitation skills, how to chair meetings, how to present well and supportively challenge colleagues. The support and input the members receive helps them to take an active part in co-production of HPFT CAMHS services whilst giving them solid skills that will help them in their lives and careers.

The Youth Council currently has 14 members. Every member has had varying experiences of CAMHS involvement, but they each have a common goal to ensure that young people’s voices are heard and to have young people and their families at the heart of service changes. 

Council member and co-production facilitator Emma Hurrell said:

“I think the Youth Council is great to get involved with, it has really helped develop my confidence, interpersonal skills and professional skills. It is also so lovely to have the chance to help make changes and shape services for future generations.” 

By including the Youth Council in discussions and service planning at all levels we are keeping human experience at the heart of design and delivery. This is playing a key part in ensuring we continue to provide recovery focused medical care for all children and young people in Hertfordshire.

CAMHS Young People’s Involvement Lead, Steve Morris said:

“The Youth Council is a fantastic forum made up of young people with different lived experience informing the way that we treat other young people with mental health issues in Hertfordshire, and who better to be able to co-produce the redesign of services than the people who have used or are using them? I'm always impressed with how much they know, how much they achieve, and their desire to supportively challenge services to be the best they can be. The Youth Council is making a real difference.”

We are incredibly proud to see the work of the Youth Council and to have their involvement in the development of and changes to services that will affect them and other young people – they really are making such a difference. If you would like to know more, then please visit here.

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