YOUNG people have taken a lead role in designing a new website for the region’s Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
The new site at https://dghscp.co.uk/camhs/ has been co-designed by service users and staff, and is now live for young people, parents, carers, families and professionals.
Three of the young people involved in developing the new website were present at the website launch on Friday 23rd June at the Willows on the Crichton Estate in Dumfries, where the CAMHS team is based.
Erin Quinn (aged 16) said: “We tried to make it as colourful and as nice as possible, to try to bring the mood up a bit. It’s important for us young people to be involved in building the service – we know what it’s like to have accessed the service before or be accessing it now, so we can feed back our own experiences.”
“Different people needed different information so we had sections for professionals, parents and carers, and young people. There’s also a section on the website that lets you meet the practitioners, so you have a rough idea of who you’re meeting. When I first started going to CAMHS I didn’t know who I would be meeting, and it made me really nervous.
“If you are in crisis and you go to the website there’s a button you can press that says ‘I am in crisis’, that tells you what you can do.”
Iona Oliver (aged 12) said: “It was important that the website gives extra help for people who are struggling and don’t know where to go. It’s an easy place to go to register to see someone or for advice and information. And it’s been good to get some of the parents and carers involved as they otherwise don’t see what we get up to.”
Ella Drysdale (aged 10) said: “I decorated the rooms for the video for the walk through of the clinic – I think the video’s good because it lets you know what to expect before you get here.”
Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership chief officer Julie White attended the launch, and she said: “I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project. A great deal of work has gone into it, from children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals in the CAMHS team and elsewhere. It was very important to us to listen to the young people themselves about what would be helpful, and we have tried to reflect as much of that as possible in the website.”
Dr Mary Smeddle is Clinical Director for CAMHS, and she said: “It was very important to ensure that the voices, experiences and ideas of young people and parents and carers who are currently or have in the past accessed services were at the heart of this website project.
“It is our hope that this website will help children, young people and their carers and families to navigate what is often a complex landscape at a stressful time in their lives.
“We want to ensure that the right help is given to the children, young people, and their carers and families by the most appropriate service, at the right time and hope that this website will help us achieve this ambition.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the website. It has been a huge amount of work from many people, and is very much appreciated.”
Local singer Freya Cloy also performed two songs at the launch event on Friday.
The website working group included young people and parents and carers. Their goal was to research, design and develop a CAMHS website that would empower people with accurate knowledge and information that would add value to them.
The website project was aligned with both local and national strategies, and has also been developed in partnership with the Health and Social Care Partnership’s Communications team and external web design company CSU Web Design.
A parent within the working group said: “When I became involved as a parent member, within the website working group, this allowed me to suggest what I felt could be improved in order for other families to better handle the situations they face with their young person at such an upsetting and confusing time of their lives.
“The problems faced by a young person affect the whole family and to know there are support networks in place or somewhere to go for information and advice is exactly what families need on difficult days.”
The website working group also wanted to ensure other people who wanted to contribute their thoughts and creative ideas on this project had the opportunity to do this by completing a short survey.
Within 12 days, 63 people completed the survey and this provided a better insight into what information and functionalities would be useful to include within the young people, parents/carers and professionals section within this website.
Alison Telfer, CAMHS Participation Lead, said: “I am aware that some children and young people can be quite nervous to come to a mental health service for the first time.
“Within the website we have included information about what happens at a first assessment, and photos of what our buildings look like inside. We have filmed a walk through tour so you can see what the reception area, waiting area and clinical rooms look like before you come.
“We have also included a typeable self-referral form which young people and their parents or carers can complete. We have included a feedback section and information on how young people and parents and carers can get involved in working in partnership with CAMHS.
“We would like to thank all of the children, young people, parents, carers and professionals who have dedicated their time, commitment, knowledge, experiences, drawings, digital art work, photography and poems that have all been included within this website.”
The CAMHS team will be continually monitoring the website’s use and effectiveness, making updates, improvements and changes as required.