young mental healthA ‘passport’ style brief of key facts that children and young people using mental health services can use to help them avoid repeating their history and preferences to multiple professionals has been launched. 

The ‘passport’, which includes clinical information as well as key personal preferences, has been developed by young people, parents and carers and can be used across care settings either on paper or on mobile phones. 

The Future in Mind Report about improving Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said ‘You should only have to tell your story once, to someone who is dedicated to helping you, and you shouldn’t have to repeat it to lots of different people’ and the tool has been developed in line with this. 

Dr Jackie Cornish, NHS England national clinical director, children, young people and transition to adulthood, said: “No patient should need to repeat their history several times and innovations like this solve problems and make patients’ lives easier. We must do better to equip the next generation to cope with the challenges they will face, and if we get this right, as well as helping them achieve their potential we will be saving time and money for the future.”

The passports are written with the practitioner and can include as much or as little as the young person wants. Content can include a summary of their issues, history and preferences. It is kept by the young person in their preferred format – like a letter, in the form of a passport or on their phone – and can be shown to professionals at any new service. 

The idea came from a group of young people, parents, carers and professionals working with NHS England on improving integration between services. The group highlighted their frustrations about needing to repeat their history when accessing multiple services. They said they did not feel empowered to pass on their information when they wanted to because services were commissioned by many different places.

Leanne, 20, who helped to draft and develop the passport and video guidance as part of the group, said: “I feel very passionate about sharing my experiences as a service user to help make changes happen. As a tool, I hope the passport can go forward to make things a little easier for other people to help them to communicate their story in their way and prevent some of the difficulties we experienced. 

“The development of the passport shows the real power of professionals and service users alike, coming together and working together to improve things for ourselves and for other people.”

NHS England will encourage practitioners to use the passport template with young people as they transition to a new service and will be informing the NHS, local authorities and voluntary and independent sectors so they are aware of their use.

“The passport is a way for young people to own the information about their time in a service and their story; it gives them a level of control they value and means they can share it with other services if they wish,” Dr Cornish added.