The report builds on Healthwatch Dorset’s 2020 pre-pandemic research, to assess if previous recommendations for improvement remain relevant and to identify any new changes deemed essential by young people.
The findings and recommendations presented in this new report are based on in-depth conversations with 23 young people from groups who do not always have a strong voice. This includes young people who have experienced trauma, young refugees, LGBTQ+ individuals, those who are outside of mainstream school, young offenders and previously looked after children.
Through thought-provoking questions, Healthwatch Dorset has identified key aspects of young people’s mental services that require improvement. The report makes several recommendations to address the issues raised.
- Shorter waiting times: The main concern raised was how long young people have to wait to access services; they want more immediate support to help prevent crises.
- Treat young people as individuals: Recognising that individual needs vary, the report emphasises the importance of tailored advice and treatment for each young person.
- Comfortable non-clinical settings: Young people expressed a preference for familiar, safe environments over clinical settings, highlighting the need for comfort during mental health support.
- Better continuity of care: Young people want consistent support from the same mental health professionals as this helps build trust and rapport, a vital aspect of effective care.
- Follow-up support: Post-treatment check-ins help young people to feel supported, so they should be established as routine.
- Activities during Talking Therapy: Not everyone is comfortable talking face-to-face, so providing the opportunity to do some sort of activity during therapy would help some young people feel more comfortable.
- Appropriate self-help suggestions: Ensure that self-help information and advice given to young people is relevant and beneficial.
Young people’s comments and case studies are featured in the report to illustrate how mental health support could be improved for young people and to highlight where good support has made a difference. Read the full report: Your Mind, Your Say – Young people’s views of mental health services in Dorset
Lucy Cribb, Healthwatch Dorset Engagement Officer, commented on the emotional and powerful nature of the feedback received, highlighting the strength and resilience of the young people involved and thanking them for their contributions.
Elaine Hurll, Head of Children & Young People, Learning Disabilities & Autism and Mental Health at NHS Dorset affirmed the significance of the report in advancing mental health services for young people in Dorset. She said: “The report perfectly illustrates the need to improve mental health services for young people living in Dorset and especially for young people who experience more challenges getting the type of help they need. Getting it right for all young people is important and so this report will underpin all the work ‘Making Mental Health services better for young people in Dorset.”