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Improving access to children’s mental health services in Derby City

Mel, Michelle and Donna at the presentation

Published on: April 23, 2024

Compass Changing Lives gave a presentation on how to promote early access to mental health services for underrepresented groups.

Compass Changing Lives is part of a Task and Finish Group with the mission to improve access to mental health services for boys and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. The group is made up of Mental Health Services that support Children and Young People in Derby and Derbyshire, and is led by Donna Green, the Senior Commissioning Manager for Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

Michelle Robinson, the Public Health Manager for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing at Derby City Council, invited the Task & Finish Group to make a presentation to Derby City School Mental Health Leads at their March meeting. Compass Changing Lives volunteered to lead the presentation, with Mel Johnson, their Engagement and Equalities Practitioner, leading its development with the support of CAMHS, Kooth, Build Sound Minds, Mental Roots and The Bemrose School.

On Wednesday 27th March, Mel delivered the presentation to over 50 school Mental Health Leads at an event at Derby Arena. Mel gave the presentation with Anisah Akhtar and Christina Wilford, an Educational Mental Health Practitioner and a Supervising Practitioner respectively, from Compass Changing Lives.

The presentation outlined the barriers that boys and those from ethnic minority backgrounds faced while accessing Mental Health services, and made suggestions as to how overcome these obstacles.

As part of the presentation, Karen Lamb, the Pupils Welfare and Safeguarding Officer Schools as well as the Mental Health Lead at The Bemrose School, showcased a piece of work she had been doing with a group of boys. By giving the boys a safe space to discuss their feelings, she noticed improvements in their self-image, mental health and wellbeing, which in turn was reflected in their attendance and behaviour.

Karen had the following to say on presenting with Changing Lives:

“It was a pleasure to work alongside Mel and the Team to share what we have been doing at The Bemrose School to enable the pupils to access support with their emotional wellbeing. Being given the opportunity to share this and network with other professionals in school settings will inspire others to find new and creative ways to get young people talking about mental health.”

The Presentation closed with an outline for the future, by explaining how Changing Lives and other Mental Health Services could work together to help and support schools in increasing access for underrepresented groups across Derby and Derbyshire.

Feedback to the presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

Michelle Robinson told Compass Changing Lives:

“It was wonderful to see all the children and young people’s mental health services work together to create this presentation to help reduce the stigma in accessing mental health support. It was well received by all the schools that attended and the information given will be very useful to help them with early identification of those children and young people who need support, especially from underrepresented groups.”

Donna Green added:

“Really good to see Compass leading and coordinating a system response to tackling inequalities with their presentation to the Derby City School Mental Health Leads.”

Spirits were similarly high from those that gave the presentation.

Mel Johnson, who had led the presentation, had this to say:

“It was amazing to work collaboratively with all these other services to achieve the common goal of improving access to Mental Health support for all young people irrespective of Age, Gender or Ethnicity.”

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