During December 2021, volunteers aged between 13 and 17 from our Young Healthwatch undertook a mystery shopping exercise in December 2021, looking at the East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) website through the lens of young patients seeking help for mental health concerns.
CAMHS is the name for the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.
This report provides their findings, as well as recommendations for service commissioners and providers.
Six YHWES volunteers reviewed the East Sussex CAMHS website from the perspective of a young person in crisis, looking for information on how to access support for concerns including,
anxiety, depression and having suicidal thoughts. They focused on four main aspects:
- the general design and layout of the website
- the language used
- how easy/challenging it was to navigate
- how helpful they found the information
Generally, the volunteers did not feel that much of the information provided on the website was helpful to children and young people experiencing mental health issues, and provided specific examples of this under each of the four headings identified above. They noted that:
“Although the website contained a lot of information on various mental health conditions themselves, it has very little information on how a child or young person may [or should] access help or support.
None of the pages we viewed directed us to seek support from a GP, mental health charity or health and social care providers and seemed to suggest that self-care was the primary/only option.”
After reviewing the notes, the volunteers worked together with HWES staff to put together the following recommendations which could help improve the website and make it more helpful for children and young people.
- We would recommend that the website include more information on how children and young people can access support for the various issues described. This should include details on when and how to contact services such as GP’s, 111, A&E, mental health charities such as MIND, counselling services and other practitioners who can support children and young people experiencing mental health issues.
- We would suggest that to improve accessibility and readability, bold fonts, clear sections, bullet points and colored fonts/sections should be incorporated into the text.
- We strongly recommend that you ask children and young people to review the website further [lay review] on a regular basis and provide feedback on what works well, what does not and make any necessary changes to improve usability.
- We also recommend that you consider having separate sections for children (under 13) and young people (13 to 18) with language changes and information which reflect the differing audiences.