Collaboration and co-production with service users and providers in three National Health Service (NHS) mental health foundation trusts, was at the heart of our recent study. The aim was to co-devise a preparation programme to improve experience and outcomes for young people leaving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Research tells us that transitions from CAMHS are often poorly managed with poor outcomes for young people. Better transition preparation may help but details are scant as to what is needed and what would be engaging for young people – so we asked 18 young CAMHS users and leavers what preparation they need.
Creative, participatory research techniques were engaging for young people and facilitated in-depth exploration of sensitive topics in a safe, collaborative, democratic, stimulating environment. In each trust the study was delivered in three stages: in two-day workshops young people explored the issues and generated ideas; together, practitioners from CAMHS and adult services explored the deliverability of young people's ideas in half-day creative workshops, co-hosted by young people; one-day ‘harvesting’ workshops saw young people bring material together. Co-researcher opportunities were taken up by nine young participants: conference poster design, dissemination (to Trust Boards, researchers, senior staff meetings, and transition review panels), writing up, literature review training.
In each trust, participation coordinators were key members of research teams. This ensured the study maintained a high profile within the participating trusts and the author (research lead) was co-opted onto CAMHS transition review panels. At the time of writing two trusts are committed to implementing the recommendations.
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