YOUNG PEOPLE DESIGN MENTAL HEALTH WEBSITE
Date: 07 October 2003
‘R U OK?’ is the question being asked of young people in the Wakefield district, by a new website, which provides reliable information and advice on mental health issues relating to young people.
www.ruok.net has been designed by four young service-users, Danielle Grice, Claire Nicholson, Gareth Rawlings and Damon Thomas, in conjunction with the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust and is officially launched this Thursday October 10th, on World Mental Health Day.
The idea for the website came from a meeting which explored ways of involving young people in shaping the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service in the Wakefield District. It was felt that a website designed by young service-users for young service-users would be the ideal way of engaging with young people as it involves an activity that they have an interest in, rather than expecting them to attend meetings and committees in order to have a voice.
Four young people were identified ranging between the ages of 13 and 16 years, and they were given the technical training they needed to help build the site. Over the summer holidays the young people met with a small team of Trust staff to design and build the site. The young people had full involvement with the material that went on the site, and even spent time surfing other information sites for sources of inspiration.
The web site offers advice and information on a variety of topics relating to young people, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and stress. It advises young people on how to seek treatment and explains what will happen when you get referred to the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service. It includes young people’s experiences of using the service and they offer advice to other young people who may have been referred: ‘If you are finding it hard to cope with anything go to the service and see if it helps you’ and ‘Don’t feel like you’re stupid and be proud that you’ve made the first step, you have realised you have a problem and that’s the hardest step’.
Everyone who has been involved in developing the site is proud of what has been achieved in a short space of time. The official launch will be at an event celebrating World Mental Health Day, at Fieldhead, and flyers advertising the web site will be widely distributed to schools, colleges and youth clubs.
The young people who designed the site have gained a lot from the experience, Danielle said, ‘I enjoyed designing the website, the information is great’ and Gareth added that ‘the information will be useful to everybody’. Damon also reflected on what he has learnt, saying, ‘The information on the site will help many young people like me. I learnt that having problems doesn’t prevent you from doing what you want’.
Jenny King, assistant psychologist for the Trust, was involved in setting up the web site and worked alongside the young service users, she said, ‘This web site is exceptional in its approach as it is purposefully written for young people by young people. There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health problems, and by helping young people understand that it is not taboo, we can encourage them to ask for and receive help. We are hoping to promote a better understanding of mental health problems by people of all ages, this is why the site is being launched on World Mental Health Day’.