mhfThe Mental Health Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation have launched a new guide on "How to commission better mental health and wellbeing services for young people".

The guide is the third in a series of “How to …” guides produced as part of the Right Here programme, which is backed by the 2 charities. The programme focuses on approaches to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 16 to 25.

David Goodban, head of the Children and Young People’s Programme at the Mental Health Foundation said: “It is now more important than ever to ensure that the wishes of young people are respected and the services that are commissioned are designed with these at their core. The Mental Health Foundation supports the involvement of young people and working with them as leaders in co-production of services fit for the 21st century.”

Adolescence and early adulthood are peak risk times for the onset of mental health problems, but there are a range of barriers to access to effective and early care. Transitions between services for children and adults tend to be poorly co-ordinated and there is a lack of age-appropriate mental health care.

This guide for commissioners provides practical recommendations, which are drawn from young people’s own experiences with the aim of overcoming barriers and support the commissioning of innovative service approaches. It brings together the learning and experience from four years of youth-led innovations in early mental health and wellbeing support for young people by Right Here.

Jack Falkingham, former national champion, now a consultant to Right Here, said: “It is so important that young people are engaged in every stage of the commissioning process. I wouldn’t be where I am today, speaking on national platforms and lobbying for better services, had Right Here not given me the chance to have my say, again and again. Sometimes, this process was uncomfortable for me and for the professionals involved. But, at its best, it was hugely enjoyable and stimulating for all of us.”