During Coronavirus (COVID-19), children and young people’s mental health services in Sussex had to move online.
Children and young people (CYP) wanted to easily access support and further guidance online, but users struggled to find the information and support they needed.
Meanwhile, some mental health practitioners didn’t feel confident communicating digitally and found it hard to shift to providing online support.
Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) in partnership with YMCA DownsLink Group and Unity Insights undertook a review of CYP digital services across Sussex. This review revealed a gap in the services provided and highlighted core digital ambitions, which were co-produced by young people. Examples of some of the ambitions include the need to embed creativity, and prioritise diversity and inclusion within digital solutions, and simplify online referral processes.
Meanwhile, to help provide CYP with the online support they needed, KSS AHSN and YMCA DownsLink Group developed the e-wellbeing website, www.e-wellbeing.co.uk, for children up to the age of 18, and their families. This is an online platform that helps young people and their families navigate mental wellbeing services across Sussex, providing parents, young people and those working with them with tools, information and advice.
National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Kent Surrey Sussex (ARC KSS), in partnership with YMCA DownsLink Group and University of Sussex evaluated the reach and acceptability of the e-wellbeing platform. This was to make sure the resource was meeting the needs of young people and their families.
As a result of the CYP digital services review, a new Digital Mental Health Communications Training Programme and Toolkit was developed to support people working in CYP mental health to navigate using digital platforms as part of their support. Funded by Health Education England, the training and toolkit was developed by e-wellbeing (part of YMCA DownsLink Group) and KSS AHSN), and evaluated by Unity Insights. The training has been co-produced and co-facilitated with young people, e-wellbeing’s youth-ambassadors, and includes podcasts on embedding a trauma-informed approach, diversity and inclusion and use of different types of social media.
This project has had a positive impact on CYP mental health services in our region. Below is a breakdown of the key metrics and outcomes for each element of the project.
- E-wellbeing website
- 15,000 young people accessed e-wellbeing in a year, logging over 53,000 page views.
- Over 96% of young people said that e-wellbeing helped them deal with their problems.
- The e-wellbeing platform has been extended to support over 18-year-olds and became a Finalist in the 2020 ‘Children & Young People Now’ national awards.
- Review of CYP digital services across Sussex
- The review found that 85% of children and young people said that online mental health support was useful and 66% said they had accessed online support for the first time during the pandemic.
- Examples of some of the ambitions include the need to embed creativity, and prioritise diversity and inclusion within digital solutions, and simplify online referral processes.
- Digital Mental Health Communications Training Programme
- Over 200 attendees came to the first training session in November 2022
- 94% of attendees rating the training as ‘excellent’ or ‘good and 91% of attendees felt they had a better understand of digital communications with CYP as a result of the training
- A toolkit is now available for people working in CYP mental health to download