New book shapes young people’s role in shaping mental health care

Young people’s efforts in shaping and improving mental health services in Norfolk are featured in a new book.

Participation in Children and Young People’s Mental Health – An Essential Guide includes a chapter exploring how they worked with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) on improving some of their letters to patients.

They focused on the language, tone and content of those sent out to young people after clinical assessments.

The chapter was co-written by Lucy North, People Participation Lead for Children, Families and Young People’s services in Norfolk and Waveney, and a young person who has received care from NSFT.

“It’s such an honour to have contributed to the first ever book on this subject and I’m really excited about the precedent this sets for the future,” said Lucy.

“It was great to work alongside the young person, and I was able to hear first-hand the impact which being involved in participation has had on both their personal development and the services they receive.

“It is a privilege to work with children, young people, parents and carers to support them to have their say and get involved in improving our services. Their voices, experiences and perspectives are imperative to transforming mental health services and shaping how we work.

“Through participation, young people and carers have helped to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and create environments that are accepting, understanding and compassionate. Young people who have been involved in participation projects with us have also told us they feel valued, heard and more involved in their recovery as a result.”

The young person who helped to write the chapter, and has asked to remain anonymous, said: “Participation is doing its part to bridge the gap between the service user and the service provider. It feels like the service user’s voice gets heard. I’ve enjoyed the social side, meeting new people and realising you’re not the only one that’s had that experience and are not alone.”

Stuart Richardson, Chief Executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I want to thank all the young people who have been involved in this great project.

“We have a clear plan in place to improve our services and at the heart of that is ensuring the voices and experiences of the people who receive our care inform all that we do.

“I’m proud of the difference the young people who we have been working with have made to the care we provide and delighted to see this particular project highlighted in this way.”

As well as changes to NSFT’s formal letters, the Norfolk and Waveney Young People’s Participation Group has also reviewed the questions asked during assessments and the group is co-producing a new website, which will be launched soon.

Anyone under the age of 25 who would like to find out more about participation at NSFT or is interested in getting involved should email [email protected]

For a copy of the book, visit Participation in Children and Young People’s Mental Health: An Essen (

A booklet is also out to encourage young people to get involved with projects within the trust.  An electronic version is available here or by visiting and clicking on “get involved”, “young people’s participation” followed by “helpful resources”.