School is back but we met up with participation lead Louis Headley to find out what Oxfordshire Outreach Service for Children and Adolescents (OSCA) got up to during the summer holidays.

Participation lead Louis Headley

This award-winning team supports children and young people with complex needs. They provide dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), see young people who may need a more flexible approach to treatment, and support young people during and after an emergency assessment.

As Oxfordshire Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) participation lead, Louis works across all clinical teams within Oxfordshire CAMHS.

“My job is to get young people involved and help them understand what participation can do for them, as well as supporting them in making integral changes to the service,” he says.

“It’s about boosting confidence, learning new skills and having a say in the service that is being received. We also support further development and look at personal aspirations.”

“We always make sure we have activities for summer holidays, too, so that young people we work with can try out new things, socialise and make friends in a safe environment. All activities are free to attend.”

In August the team organised an anxiety workshop in Cowley.

Reflections in anxiety workshop.

“This was for our young people to discuss different types of anxiety, recognise the signs and talk about ways to manage anxiety that could be used or are currently used by our young people. This was great for learning and sharing ideas,” says Louis.

The team also ran a session in mindfulness during a local trapeze activity. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, Louis explains:

“It’s an activity that takes great focus where you have to really listen to the instructors. It was for our young people to try something different and practise the techniques they’ve learnt.”

Trapeze was used for honing mindfulness techniques.

Finally, young people from the dialectical behavioural therapy programmes went on a trip to Thorpe Park.

“This was a chance for them to put their skills into practice but also a nice reward! They and the team work really hard and both together make it a success,” Louis said.

Now that school is back, what does Louis wish for the young people?

“I hope everyone gets the support they need and that they flourish in their own right,” he says.

“Growing up is hard. There are a number of challenges these days. Everybody wants to be liked, and social media doesn’t make it easy. Then you have the A-levels, GCSEs, and SATs and relationships; a range of pressures. All of these and more can affect mental health.  But people can help and if you need help, tell someone; a school nurse, your teacher or head of year, contact the CAMHS Single Point of Access. Someone can help.”