In this second of a two-part summary, I answer the second half of the MindEd conference question, ‘How is mental health literacy best generated and delivered?’. My response is based on our experience at Pixel Learning and it is one of many approaches rather than The Approach.
The mental health crisis in this country will only change with many different approaches that are designed for and by many different people. The range of voices and perspectives in our We Are All Human blog demonstrate that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not encompass the myriad experiences of mental health. The following is framed around what we have found through working with young people.
The answer is, of course, that there is no single, fixed answer, but focusing on users can be a helpful place to start moving towards making a difference.
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How can mental health literacy be successfully delivered?
- Focus on user needs and embed their views in the design of any intervention. ThinkWell was named by a 15 year old and we have a youth ambassador programme where young people will develop ThinkWell with us.
- Test with users on their terms. We piloted ThinkWell with 118 young people aged 13-18 years old in their own communities; in our case, their schools.
- Be flexible and use what you learn. We need to be flexible in how we build mental health literacy in young people; this is a moving target. New causes of anxiety will appear, new stories will grab young people’s attention and we all need to be agile enough to have a discussion that is always relevant.
Since we launched ThinkWell on 11th January we have worked with over 400 young people and their teachers and will be working with hundreds more over the coming months. We have over 80 development tweaks to implement in ThinkWell. After every delivery, we’ve iterated and changed the material to reflect the young people’s feedback that we have received. For example, Year 9 (13-14 year olds) told us that they wanted a harder treasure hunt so we now spend longer hiding clues. We weren’t sure that Sixth Formers would want to play Buckaroo but their involvement and verbal feedback suggested that they enjoyed its role in exploring mental health issues.
We are led by feedback, outcomes and data; solid evidence to base our decisions on for maximum impact. We are very proud of our delivery outcomes, young people are 30% more likely to know where to go for mental health support and 27% more likely to know where to go for mental health support and 27% more likely to ask for that help.
We’re looking forward to developing even more robust monitoring and evaluation for ThinkWell including long term tracking of young people’s health outcomes. We are in discussions with experts in healthcare data to see how we can effectively do this and all of our data is freely available to anyone who needs it for research.
So in conclusion, based on our experience, a successful mental health literacy programme is one inclusive to all styles of learning and based on powerful stories. Successful delivery means basing mental health literacy on young people’s needs, being flexible and being data driven.
Fundamentally, the strategy is delivery.