Mental health support finder acts as a single front door to young people's psychiatric services
Gloucestershire children and young people’s mental health services has launched a digital support finder.
The online mental health support solution acts as a single front door for young people’s mental health services.
It also gives young people more choice and control in their care and, for health practitioners, it provides accurate advice and signposting to referral services.
NHS Gloucestershire CCG partnered with user-centred service design specialist, Mace & Menter, which led on discovery, research, and design.
The project first involved exploratory research with the local community and school groups. Then, rounds of user research and prototype testing established the range of needs.
For example, the CCG relied on practitioners and trusted adults to provide signposting to mental health support, and alternative ways of finding appropriate support were less clear.
We designed the service based on feedback from users to meet their needs and these improvements mean thousands more people can access mental health support
Public sector technology expert, Made Tech, delivered technical strategy and delivery for the project.
And the discovery and first build of the solution was completed in eight weeks.
The support finder guides people through a series of questions to understand how they are feeling and what support might be needed. Users are then signposted to the most-relevant service and are given useful support information about mental health.
The results are available to young people, their parents, and carers via the website and SMS.
Providing SMS access was an important element of the service as it needed to be accessible and secure for any child or young person to use, regardless of their access to a computer.
The service has also been designed with security at its core, making sure users’ data is protected.
The baseline architecture and codebase was developed under open standards principles and is available to other NHS trusts to use for free. This lets trusts with similar patient needs to reuse and adapt the solution, without vendor lock-in.
Helen Ford, programme director for integrated commissioning at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Young people often find asking for help with mental health difficult.
“Our new resource acts as a virtual helping hand to guide people to the right support.
The NHS service standard is now giving NHS teams the confidence to work in a more user-centred way, allowing them to improve health pathways and embrace digital transformation
“The support finder allows children and young people to make informed choices about the services they use.
“But, while we developed the resource with young people in mind, we expect a range of professionals, parents, and carers to use it too.”
Sam Menter, managing director of Mace & Menter, added: “The NHS service standard is now giving NHS teams the confidence to work in a more user-centred way, allowing them to improve health pathways and embrace digital transformation.
“We founded Mace & Menter to work on projects that have the potential to improve people’s lives, so this was a great fit for our skills and values and we will track the impact over the coming year.”
And Hazel Jones, head of health at Made Tech, said: “Collaboration and user testing across disabilities, digital skills, and accessibility needs was key.
“Thorough and rapid discovery, alpha, and beta testing phases meant we were able to make the best-possible version of the technology.
“We designed the service based on feedback from users to meet their needs and these improvements mean thousands more people can access mental health support.”