Young people taking the lead in mental health services redesign

Improving children and young people's mental health and wellbeing in Midlothian – reporting on the 100 Day Challenge

The ihub and Nesta's People Powered Results (PPR) team worked together to test and develop unique approaches to accelerating change within diverse and complex systems.

Over the past year, the partnership between the ihub and Nesta supported Midlothian Council to catalyse their efforts to test ideas around improving mental health and wellbeing for children and young people through the implementation of the PPR '100 Day Challenge' methodology. The PPR process has concluded, and we are continuing to work together to understand the lasting impact of this approach in Midlothian.

The following story was first published by Nesta to help understand the impact of the work for children and young people supported by both organisations.

Below we share it with the ihub audience.

The Midlothian 100 Day Challenge
The Midlothian 100 Day Challenge involved 42 team members from 19 different organisations. These included schools, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and different statutory, voluntary, and community sectors - all working together in new ways to listen and respond to what children, young people, families and carers need.

Three cross-organisational teams were formed which tested out ideas that would help different groups:

  • children moving from primary to secondary school,
  • young people transitioning from secondary school to college, and
  • care-experienced young people across Midlothian.

The teams were self-organising, but encouraged to meet regularly. All teams came together at day 50 to re-energise, review progress, and adjust their ideas and plans if needed.

Listening and involving
What really stood out in the Midlothian 100 Day Challenge was the sheer commitment each team had towards genuinely listening and involving children and young people as well as their families and carers.

Ideas that make a difference
All three teams based their ideas on what people felt would make an actual difference, and two teams had people with lived experience involved as team members throughout the 100 days. This kept children and young people’s voices at the heart of everything the teams did and helped to shape the Challenge's direction in unexpected and helpful ways, for instance:

  • One of the teams wanted to help young people moving from secondary school to college. They started by gathering insights from over 150 pupils between the ages of 14-17. This was to make sure that their ideas would be of benefit. In response to what they heard, they trained just under 100 trusted adults in Mental Health First Aid so young people know who to ask for support when they need it. They also supported students to design and deliver mental health content for PSE sessions, with 59% agreeing that their knowledge about mental health had increased.
  • Another team tested providing dedicated CAMHS consultation time for kinship carers for the first time. They were able to agree a plan to trial and evaluate the impact of kinship carers being supported directly by CAMHS, leading them to be better able to support the children and young people they care for.
  • The third team asked one class of pupils aged 9-10 what they thought would make their classroom more likely to improve their wellbeing, and then encouraged them to lead on redesigning it themselves. Giving children the opportunity to bring their ideas to life was a move away from 'business as usual', and helped them have a genuine say in shaping their learning environment. The classroom now has a designated quiet space, and 26 pupils created their own personalised emotional wellbeing toolboxes.

Setting a precedent
In total, 175 children, young people, families and carers were involved in Midlothian's 100 Day Challenge and the experience has set a precedent for this to continue, so that people with lived experience are helping shape the programmes and services that affect them.

Following the end of the 100 days teams presented their recommendations, evidence and requests to the leadership group at the 100 Day Sustainability Review Event. The leadership group representatives showed a real commitment to scale and spread the learning from the teams.

Further information
There is more information about the Midlothian 100 Day Challenge on the Nesta website. Read how it was designed to act as a catalyst for action within a broader five-year project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

You can also download a summary version of the final report about this project.

The ihub Mental Health Access Improvement Support team web pages outline the support we offer to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.