Oxford Health creates first Youth Board after 1,500 Oxfordshire young people share views in survey

A unique survey of 1500 young people in Oxfordshire has given new valuable insights into the views, experiences and emotions around mental health and wellbeing of 12-25 year olds in the county.

Oxford Health creates first Youth Board after 1,500 Oxfordshire young people share views in survey

Led by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, in conjunction with the not-for-profit organisation Unloc, the survey attracted a range of young people via schools, colleges and youth organisations.

Each respondent has enabled a comprehensive temperature check of personal experiences after two challenging years – COVID-19 lockdowns, disruption to education and changes to everyday lives.

Oxford Health’s own service user groups also contributed to the survey, providing a ‘lived experience’ dimension by those actively receiving mental health support.

The results of the survey are now being reviewed with the aim of further developing and transforming Oxford Health’s services.

They will also be shared with other organisations, schools and support systems on the perspectives of young people – to deliver better care, provide the help needed and raise awareness amongst young people and those who care about them.

Some survey highlights included

  • Just under half of respondents felt good about themselves
  • 50.6% could be honest with a parent about how they were feeling
  • Around one in three had fun most days
  • 55.4% of those survey reported having experienced difficulties with their mental health
  • Negative thoughts, exam and study stresses, and relationship issues were the top three concerns
  • 40% said they spoke to someone about their mental health less than once a month or never
  • One in four young people felt confident in asking for help

One of the key outcomes from the survey has been the creation of an OHFT Youth Board where young people have a platform to share views, be listened to and help shape the future of mental health care. Around 50 interested young people applied to become members.

Now 19 of them, aged 13-18, have been appointed to be serving board members who meet with OHFT leaders and with Unloc every six weeks. Nine of them are current or previous mental health service users.

The young people are a diverse group with a variety of ethnicities, demographics, carer responsibilities and neurodiversity – all with strong motivations for wanting to be involved in improving health services for young people.

Oxford Health provides a comprehensive range of mental health service (CAMHS) that helps young people and families in a variety of ways. The Trust already has mental health support teams in schools alongside school and college health nurses.

Tehmeena Ajmal, interim Executive Managing Director for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Services at Oxford Health, said: “I am delighted that we and Unloc have gone out to young people in this proactive way and that we now have an opportunity to use their views to guide us and other organisations in shaping health, care and wellbeing support to our young people.

“They’ve told us what really matters to them; what might be holding them back from reaching out for help whether that’s at school, within their own support networks or via more formal health routes. We have a duty to listen to them and act on what they are telling us.”

Kerry Rogers, Director of Corporate Affairs & Company Secretary, who has championed the Unloc project work which is now being extended to cover Buckinghamshire, added: “This project is an opportunity for the trust and partner organisations in Oxfordshire and beyond to widen engagement with young people as best we can.

“Young people have faced many challenges throughout the pandemic – disruption to education, restrictions on socialising, anxieties, stress and more. We must stand with them more than ever, listen and learn from them to find out what meet their needs.

“As a mental health service provider, this collective voice provides us with a unique opportunity to tailor our services to offer truly outstanding care.”

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Published: 17 February 2022