05 January 2023
By Beth Gibbons, Programme Manager for Children’s Mental Health and Maternity at NHS Gloucestershire
During 2022, NHS Gloucestershire’s children and young people’s mental health services launched its digital support finder. Beth Gibbons explains how her team at NHS Gloucestershire created On Your Mind Glos to give young people more control of their care.
With the support of tech specialists, Made Tech and Mace and Menter, we have created a team of designers and technologists along with our NHS staff to research and build this new mental health tool. The work was commissioned rather than built in house because of the specialist skills and capabilities needed around service design and agile service delivery.
The team worked with clinicians, frontline workers, children, young people and the local community to research user needs. We found that interaction with these specific groups was crucial to help us create a tool that truly worked for those it needed to. Mental health support practitioners, GPs, school nurses and mental health leads in schools were also included in the research to help us understand the specific problems that needed fixing.
A single source for local mental health support information
The online support finder on the dedicated website guides users through a series of questions to understand how they’re feeling and what support they might need. They’re then signposted to the most relevant service for their needs and given useful information about mental health.
The results are available to young people, their parents and carers via the website and SMS. Providing SMS access was an important element of the service as it needed to be accessible and secure for any child or young person to use, regardless of their access to a computer. Just three months after the initial launch, a round of user research revealed that young people like using the service, with more than 2,500 visiting the site.
Today, the support finder is an easier solution for young people to understand, find and access over 100 mental health support services and gives them more choice and control of their care. For health practitioners it provides accurate advice and helps them signpost to services.
It has since been launched in schools alongside a programme of mental health awareness and has reached around 10,000 young people. While it was developed for young people, it’s expected that professionals, parents and carers will use it too.