Mental Health & Wellbeing: Young Healthwatch
Giving young people a voice to shape health and social care
What are we doing?
Young Healthwatch is the youth arm of Healthwatch Central West London. It exists to give young people a voice to shape local mental health services in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.
Our dedicated group of Young Healthwatch volunteers meets weekly, to catch up, connect, and plan projects. Young Healthwatch's current work is centred around engaging local young people to talk about their mental wellbeing and how services can work better for them, conducting research and community listening projects, and influencing service provision by sharing detailed insights and recommendations with decision makers like service commissioners and local councillors.
Through Young Healthwatch I get to meet so many new people and engage in interesting discussions on mental health. I have developed so many valuable skills throughout my time so far.
Rupert, Young Healthwatch volunteer
What have we been working on recently?
Supporting school pupils in North West London
As of Summer 2021, we are thrilled to announce that we are collaborating with the North West London Schools Research Network (SRN) this year to pilot a student engagement project in schools across North West London. The North West London School's Research Network (SRN) brings together the National Institute of Health Research’s Clinical Research Network and the Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) in North West London , Young Healthwatch and Imperial College London. The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is the research arm of the NHS
The aim for the network is to:
- Generate new knowledge, bridge current gaps in how knowledge is applied in practice, and to share everyday learning across the network, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of schoolchildren
- We are particularly focused on making schools and school pupils aware that they can shape - and take part - in the research that is done, particularly around mental health
- Focus on reacting to the individual needs of schools, rather than prompting on what they should do
Full details including the full offer to schools and a sign up link can be found on the SRN webpage here:
Call for evidence work with Business & Children’s Scrutiny Committee in Westminster
Young Healthwatch co-produced a report with core Healthwatch staff (which included recommendations) on all evidence we had captured from young people since the pandemic hit in relation to the impact on their mental health. This was done in response to a request from Westminster Scrutiny Committee’s cross-party task force of councillors whose focus is young people’s mental health. Our young volunteers also presented this report to the task force in a closed meeting. Read the report.
Young People's Online Wellbeing Event Part 2
For our second wellbeing webinar, YHW volunteers collaborated with volunteers form RBKC Youth Council again to design and deliver their own event. Drawing on their needs and what we had captured from a multitude of young people locally, the group decided to assemble a panel of experts to discuss topics like careers and school, mental health, COVID-19, physical wellbeing, and the future. These conversations were intertwined with inspirational poetry and music, all created by young people. The event allowed attendees to interact and learn from their peers and professionals in a nurturing environment. View the summary.
Presenting at a Vaccine Equity meeting
“Young Healthwatch volunteers were asked to attend and contribute to a ‘huddle’ organised by North West London Health and Care Partnership in April 2021. The volunteers provided their own thoughts and that of the young people we have heard from locally, on what the barriers were to COVID-19 vaccine take up among young people, and what other factors should be considered.
The meeting set up to improve vaccine equity across communities in NW London and the focus was on co-production to make required improvements to the programme through listening and sharing ideas. Read the presentation.
Bridging The Gap: Our mental health survey
In 2020, Young Healthwatch ran a mental health survey. The survey was aimed at finding out how young people think about their mental health, what causes them stress, and how COVID-19 has impacted on their general wellbeing. We received a fantastic response to the survey, with over 200 young people sharing their experiences with us.
We created a report designed to influence local decisions on mental health provision for young people. Our work was highlighted by Healthwatch England, and we shared our insights with decision makers at regional level, with local councils, NHS Trusts, Public Health England, and various community partners.
Responding to the call for more guidance on mental health support
In July 2020, Young Healthwatch volunteers and core Healthwatch staff coproduced a mental health support signposting poster. The poster was a response to calls for clearer messaging on where to find mental health support in the Young Healthwatch mental health survey
The poster included reviews of three online mental health support services conducted by Young Healthwatch. The volunteers also researched and provided details of urgent and non-urgent support lines and local community support groups.
The completed poster was shared through the same channels as the mental health survey so that all young people who completed the survey would be able to see it, as well as on social media and through the volunteers’ personal networks.
COVID-19 engagement: Our Young Wellbeing Q&A
In March 2021 we brought together experts from Imperial College NHS Trust, Kooth, One Westminster, Connecting Care For Children and RBKC Youth to hold an online webinar on youth health and wellbeing, COVID-19 anxieties, education and more. At the event we had presentations from our panelists before young people had the chance to put their questions to the experts in a live Q&A.
Part of a series of work we have carried out centred on COVID-19 related engagement, our event was co-designed and delivered by three youth groups (including YHW) and gave young people the opportunity to ask questions and receive information from health experts in a safe and trusted environment. Read the summary.
Sharing our work: Our appearances on One Community Radio
In May and October 2020 volunteers from Young Healthwatch appeared on CNWL’s One Community Radio show to share our work with residents, service users, NHS staff and community organisations.
In our first appearance, our volunteers Civan, Jane, and Rupert talked about the need to end stigma around mental health problems. We talked about the priority given to physical health over mental health, the benefits of psychotherapy and the need for greater mental health awareness for people of all generations.
In our second appearance, our volunteers hosted an interactive quiz that debunked myths around various mental health conditions.