- Young Advisors
- 8 Bradley Street
- M1 1EH
- Tel : 0161 850 1077
Emotional Health and Wellbeing Report
A report into the findings of research conducted in
Waltham Forest looking at how young people think
EHWB services should be best provided and advertised.
In partnership with Waltham Forest CAMHS
The Young Advisors were commissioned to investigate how young people in Waltham Forest use and perceive emotional health services available to them. They looked at who young people go to for support, how young people think these services should be provided, and how they currently feel about the quality of services.
This work builds on research already done by the Young Advisors, and is important in the context of the changing ways in which mental health services will be provided in the light of the Health and
Social Care Act.
The report hopes to make recommendations to the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Board on cost effective ways to advertise and de-stigmatise services for young people, and to give an idea of which services young people have heard of and engage with.
Alongside this report, we are developing a social media platform (on Facebook) to provide information to local young people from local emotional health and wellbeing services.
This executive summary aims to give an overview of the findings and recommendations. We have used the top line overall data for this summary.
We distributed questionnaires (See Appendix A on full report) amongst our networks to get an overview of how young people were using services. These were distributed to 3 age groups: 11 – 14 (Years 7 – 9), 14 – 16 (Years 10 – 11) and 17 – 19 (Years 12 – 13). In total, we had 83 returned.
Then we ran focus groups with young people aged 11 – 14 and 17 – 19 to dive deeper into some of the issues affecting young people’s access. Those who returned questionnaires were not asked to be part of the focus groups, this was so that we could talk to as many different young people as possible.
We collected data on gender for the questionnaires but not the focus groups (as this would have required recording exactly who said what in each group).
In total, we spoke to around 60 young people in the focus groups (47 from Years 7 – 9, and 13 from the 17-19 age group).
In the questionnaire responses there are a few notable findings. First and foremost, the idea that different kinds of support need to be tailored to different age groups was dominant. For example, many younger respondents felt they would need more support if they received a bad school report, while older respondents saw this as far less of an issue, but saw support with exams as a much bigger need.
The oldest age group, while still concerned with exams, felt they needed a lot of support with the stress of finding a job. Different types of support are relevant to different age groups, and this is also a key to advertising and communicating services to them.
We noted with some concern that males saw issues such as teenage pregnancies and STI’s as less of an issue, while females saw these as big issues. Given that for both of these the concern should be equal to both genders we felt that there needed to be some work done around this – especially to ensure the emotional wellbeing of girls.
We can infer from the amount of respondents to the questionnaire overall that females seem more willing to engage with the idea of emotional health and wellbeing support, with the majority of respondents being female (47, as opposed to 36 responses from males). Females generally tended to be more willing to talk about their feelings and emotions. It seems therefore that targeting support at male (especially within the older age categories) may be worthwhile.
We noticed that males generally felt that the issues asked about in Question 2 would affect them less in their future lives than females – although the majority of respondents felt that issues asked about wouldn’t affect them. Question Two asks respondents to rank how much they thought the following issues affected people in Waltham Forest:
Personal stress (e.g. from exams)
STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
Other (please state):
This in itself was concerning, as we know that a quarter of people will experience some form of mental health difficulties at some point in any given year. The fact that many respondents did not see their mental health as an issue to think about in the future is therefore a point worth considering when advertising services to them.
Interactive forms of communication came out top in terms of how the young people would like to receive information about services to support their mental health – with videos, mobile apps, social networking sites and websites polling highly. Across the board, many felt that anonymous helplines were not such an effective method of signposting to, or providing support. This is at odds with what many professionals have identified as an ‘effective’ method of support.
In terms of how successfully the young people felt that they had been communicated with, PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) lessons came up a lot – although there is somewhat of a disparity between the information provided by different schools. A few respondents also mentioned leaflets they had seen from organisations such as Quit Smoking and 722. PSHE lessons could be a useful resource for distributing support, especially as the Department for Education is currently reviewing the quality and content of PSHE lessons as part of the Schools White Paper. The initial consultation on this finished in November 2011, but there may be further opportunities to contribute to it.
The vast majority of respondents to the questionnaires felt they had a Good or Excellent knowledge of emotional health and wellbeing services they could use. This is in conflict with the relatively small number of young people who felt they could name services they could use. Young people obviously know that there are services out there, and vaguely how they might go about accessing them (with “the council” coming up a few times as a suggestion of where to get support from), but not individual services themselves.
Very few of the questionnaire’s respondents said that they had used emotional or mental health wellbeing services in the past – with those who had citing Quit Smoking (from the NHS), Face2Face (which no longer exists) and emotional health workers within their schools. As the previous research found, many young people felt more comfortable talking to people they knew. There is an opportunity here to offer training or support to parents and friends to help those in need of support who don’t feel confident going to see a specialist.
Our focus group findings echoed a lot of the themes brought up in the surveys returned; this is significant as none of the focus group attendees were questionnaire respondents.
When we asked them what they thought about when they saw the words “Mental and Emotional Health” they identified a number of services, conditions and social assumptions. We found that, broadly speaking, these could be broken down into two categories: the causes of poor mental health, and the consequences of poor mental health.
For instance – some relationships may be the causes of poor mental health, while being in hospital might be a consequence of poor mental health. While the young people themselves didn’t divide their responses into these categories, it is encouraging that they could identify a holistic sphere of relatively sensible responses to the prompt.
What was also encouraging were the additional key messages the young people identified when we discussed the Key Messages (Appendix B in full report) we had researched. The focus was very much on encouraging young people to talk about their mental health, identifying further causes of poor mental health, and making the link between physical and mental health (such as eating disorders).
When we asked the young people in the focus groups how they felt about current service provision and how it could be improved there was a consensus that, while they knew of services, the corporatism and ‘officiality’ of a lot of services was off-putting. For example, they identified the NHS and said they felt that it was too big and branded and seemed far too belittling.
Many of them discussed how they had talked to teachers before. A worrying revelation was that some of the young people felt that some teachers were not approachable with personal problems such as mental health. It’s worrying that any young person in school feels they that they can’t approach a teacher for help – and there is perhaps an opportunity here to train teachers in how to support young people. Part of the problem often is that teachers can see their role as purely academic and forget that they have a duty of pastoral care to students as well.
The young people also discussed speaking with members of their faith organisation for support. This was also brought up in the previous piece of research Young Advisors did (focused around who
young people would like to get support from).
In terms of how young people felt about the best ways to deliver or advertise services, the majority of participants found the more interactive methods more desirable – websites, apps and social networks came high on the list, with newspapers, leaflets and the like coming considerably lower. The Young Advisors have now set up a social network page for mental health information distribution on Facebook and will work with CAMHS to keep it updated.
To check out their Facebook page go to www.facebook.com/EmotionalHealthWalthamForest
In light of the findings of this report into how young people feel about emotional health and wellbeing provisions in Waltham Forest, the Young Advisors would like to recommend the following is taken forward by the relevant agencies across the borough:
• The development of a local curriculum for schools in the borough focusing on mental health issues – not just to focus on PSHE lessons but as holistically as possible across the range of subjects. (i.e. including interactive sessions, expert visitors and motivational speakers)
• The provision of extra-curricular classes around anger/stress management, things like yoga etc
• Better signposting within schools/libraries/youth centres to external services such as FRANK, Samaritans, and CAMHS
• Enabling small school visits to mental health services so they can see what the provision is really like
• Encouraging schools to put together a personal development/information pack for every new student – this could signpost towards services and provide information about some basic mental health problems
• Training/ informing Peer mentors of Emotional Health and Well-Being services and support available
• Scoping for a possible ‘awareness month’ for mental health issues
• Promotion of the Young Advisors ‘Emotional Health Waltham Forest’ Facebook page
To commission the team or talk to them further about their project please contact Jane.Brueseke@walthamforest.gov.uk
To download the full report and data collated for this project click on the links below: