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Children's Mental Health Week - our Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer David Evans shares his reflections

09 Feb 24

As a father of two teenagers and Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer of a mental health Trust, Children’s Mental Health week holds a particular importance to me.   Our younger years set the journey for the rest of our lives - the way we learn to navigate the world, how we learn to cope with different situations, the support we have around us and the care we receive when we need some extra help.  As a specialist mental health Trust, we support people when they are most unwell and that includes ensuring we have a diverse and tailored range of services to support young people and to help give them the very best start in life.

The theme of this week, ‘My Voice Matters’, resonated strongly with me. Often in our busy working lives it is easy hear but harder to listen, take in and act on the voices of our service users in the day to day.  As a Trust we want to actively engage, listen, and coproduce services that meet young people’s needs and by doing this we try to understand what’s been great about the care they’ve received and what we can do better.   Just this week I’ve heard a positive story about a young person supported by one of our school teams that was life changing, and in the same week I heard concerns from people that some of our services are not always set up in the best way to support those with neurodiverse needs.   Hearing the voice of all our young people, whether they’ve accessed our services or not, is the way in which we will tailor our services to meet needs, improve access and destigmatise care.  We want to make sure that every contact with the Trust is one that makes a positive difference to young people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable.

We have already begun this journey and by listening and co-producing services with young people across the county we have made improvements which have included:

  • 40% of schools in the area now have a mental health team;
  • A dedicated eating disorder service for young people;
  • Launch of a single point of access 24/7 crisis service for young people;
  • Home treatment teams in place to mean that where possible children can be cared for at home and continue to live their lives and go to school;
  • Opening of Cherry Tree Cottage providing an intensive 12 week treatment in a home from home environment.

There are many more services we offer and we are extremely proud of the care we provide to young people and of the incredible staff delivering it. We would never have got our services to where they are without truly listening to the voice of young people but we know there is more to do and we will work hard to continuously improve our services with the help of those who know them best – our staff, service users and their carers – meaning your voice really does matter to us.”

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