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 report in the trilogy 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.
“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 and author of YEAH! trilogy.
The report shares a snapshot of the county’s view on information provided for mental health, smoking, alcohol and nutrition and many more.
Some of the key findings 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
The key findings and recommendations identified received significant media coverage and were broadcast and discussed in the following; BBC Look East, BBC Essex Radio, Heart FM, Mail on Sunday, Your Harlow, Dunmow Broadcast and Saffron Walden Reporter. As a result of this media coverage, the findings around cannabis use, in particular, made regional and national debate.
Hannah shares how the issues around drug use really caught the attention of public health commissioners across Essex: “We’re really pleased that this lived experience has been used to shape Essex County Council’s drug strategy. One of the most consistent findings of this report was how young people wish to receive public health messaging, and that is something that commissioners have taken on board, and we have been invited to represent these young voices to health and care professionals and providers across our county.”
Essex County Council’s Director for Public Health echoed this and shared how lessons learnt from the report findings could feed into the Council’s Sport England pilot work.
The chair of Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group also highly praised the work and said that findings would feed into the Collaborative Children and Young People’s Forum, current discussions around primary curriculum on well-being with flow through to secondary school and will help inform the stretch targets for access to emotional well-being and mental health services.