Healthwatch Essex Launches Report on Young People’s Attitudes to Health and Social Care

Healthwatch has launched a report which provides a unique insight into the views that young people in Essex hold about health and social care.

Since 2015, the Healthwatch Essex Engagement Team has actively engaged with nearly 2,000 young people across Essex. YEAH!, which stands for Young Essex Attitudes on Health & Social Care, provides a spotlight on health and social care lived experiences.

Building on the success of the first two YEAH! Reports, which led to national and local impact across the health and social care sectors, our team spent summer 2017 engaging with 717 young people aged 16-19 participating in National Citizen Service (NCS) to produce the YEAH!3 Report; the final publication in the YEAH! trilogy. The engagement revealed a fascinating picture of what matters most to young people in the county.

Some of the key findings of the report include;

  • Approximately 75% of participants felt they had not received enough information on drugs and alcohol to make informed decisions to keep themselves safe.
  • 20% identified cannabis smoking as prevalent in their age group due to cost and accessibility compared to cigarettes and participants felt cannabis was smoked more frequently than cigarettes.
  • The groups rarely knew how to access support for their mental health.
  • 75% wanted to learn about social aspects of sex and relationships such as consent, exploitation, abuse and LGBTQ+ identities.

This project has enabled young people of Essex to be the voice of change and set the agenda of their own health and care priorities. Here at Healthwatch Essex, we have seen the groups’ opinions and ideas embedded in sustainable transformation plans (STPs) and report findings used to inform local council programmes and committees.

For example, West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) undertook a country-wide exercise around Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to inform the recommissioning of the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services (EWMHS) and the 111 providers, IC24, acknowledged the need to inform young people of non-emergency and out-of-hours services.

We have loved working with young people in this trilogy of reports and listening to their powerful lived experience. We have used the same methods across all three projects: explain, empower, enjoy. By going to young people where they are, having informal conversations in small peer groups and letting them steer the conversations to the topics that matter most to them, we have been able to produce this impactful report,” said Hannah Fletcher, Youth Engagement Officer, author of YEAH! trilogy.

YEAH!3 expands on the public health topics discussed in 2015 and 2016, by exploring in more detail how young people feel they need to take care of their health and how they wish to access services. The report shares a snapshot of the county’s view on information provided for mental health, smoking, alcohol and nutrition and many more.

This is a strong report, finalising the amazing YEAH! trilogy. We’re very proud of this research project led by Hannah which really dives in the detail of young people’s needs across the county,” said Dr. David Sollis, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex.

Shedding a spotlight on lived experience is invaluable evidence of which we’re looking forward to using to truly make a difference in influencing change across social and health care services and education to this group. Our reports look to create long-lasting impact and improve the lives of young people across Essex.”

To view the full report, click here. For more information, please contact us on 01376 572 829.