New CAMHS Ready App is Ready to Go

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Did you know that there is an app that helps children and young people, and their families, prepare for their first visit to North Staffordshire Combined CAMHS?

In fact, it’s actually open to use by anyone preparing for their first visit to any CAMHS service, anywhere.

It’s called CAMHS Ready. Its free, doesn’t require any downloads, can be used by anyone over the age of 9, and on any device.

And it’s based on the critically acclaimed Doc Ready app that in the last 2 years has helped over 40,000 young people prepare for a mental health visit to their GP.

Very Exciting

We’re rather fired up about this because CAMHS Ready’s core mission is to reduce anxiety, empower young people and make their first appointment easier – all through their increased participation in the process.

CAMHS Ready has been developed together with young people and staff to:

Provide reassurance to young people and their families about the process of visiting CAMHS

Prepare young people to make the most of their first visit to CAMHS

Help open up conversations between young people and CAMHS staff at first CAMHS appointments

Alex Leslie, CAMHS Ready Manager, Futuregov

We think it’s got massive potential…

2 Simple and Powerful Elements

The app has 2 elements: advice and a customisable checklist. Information in the app explains what CAMHS is, how it works, how it can help and what to expect at a first appointment. It also breaks down some of the CAMHS language and terminology that is new to the young person.

This information can be found on other websites however here it has all been written by young people who’ve used CAMHS. Crucially it also combines with Doc Ready’s most popular feature: the checklist.

The Checklist

The checklist helps you plan for that first appointment. But rather than telling you what you should be asking or talking about it lets you pick from a range of 15 topics like mood, sleep, appetite and motivation. Then for each topic you can select from a list of common statements to add to your checklist. Once you’ve made your checklist you can add your own statements and drag and drop to prioritise what you want to talk about in your session

Once you’ve completed your checklist you can print, download or email it to yourself. Usefully you can also send it straight from the CAMHS Ready site to your phone by SMS. That way even if you don’t have a smartphone you can still have your checklist handy in the appointment. Or if you haven’t used CAMHS Ready until you’re in the waiting room for your first appointment you can use it there and then.

The checklist is also private. Nothing is stored and it’s not shared with anyone.

What’s the Benefit?

CAMHS Ready is run by public sector innovators Futuregov and their partners. It builds on the success of Doc Ready, a proven tool for helping make young people’s lives better. In an independent evaluation carried out by Nottingham University’s Mindtech, 82% of users surveyed said the product helped them think clearly and prepare to talk with someone else, while 77% felt they were more able to take control and make their minds up about things after using Doc Ready.

CAMHS Ready aims to repeat these outcomes by helping you think through what you are currently experiencing and what the issues are. This helps you better understand your own mind, feel more ready and more in control. From a professional view when a young person comes to their meeting in a more prepared state it opens up conversations.

By reducing anxiety about that first appointment CAMHS Ready is also likely to reduce the number of DNAs (where a young person ‘does not attend’ the appointment).

At no point does CAMHS Ready try to offer a diagnoses. Its sole focus is on helping young people feel more ready for their CAMHS appointment. The weight of evidence from Doc Ready suggests that CAMHS Ready will also improve young people’s lives.

How was it Built?

After the success of Doc Ready the team were keen to redesign the app to support children after they’d seen their GP. Step forward North Staffordshire CAMHS who were already pointing people towards Doc Ready but struggling to provide accessible and timely information and advice about what visiting CAMHS would be like. They then funded part of the CAMHS Ready’s development.

But rather than just transposing Doc Ready’s content and checklist into a new app the CAMHS Ready team began with some user research. They spent a month asking young people over the age of 8 and their family how prepared they felt before coming, how they found out about CAMHS, what their referral pathway was and, crucially, what initial questions they had and what they wished they’d known in advance.

Of those surveyed (these only being young people who had attended their appointments) 60% of responses said they felt averagely prepared or worse.

The team then combined insights from these questions with co-design sessions with North Staffordshire CAMHS youth council to work up content for the advice section and workshops to help identify how to iterate Doc Ready’s checklist content.

The app was then built on a platform to make it fully responsive (accessible on any sized screen – from computer to smartphone).

Who’s Behind CAMHS Ready?

CAMHS Ready, just like Doc Ready, is a collaboration between Futuregov, Enabled by Design, Neontribe and Social Spider. These partners originally came together during Comic Relief’s Innovation Labs initiative and have invested a lot of faith in working together for the last three years.

Futuregov are public sector tech experts – a digital design company for public services who have worked with more than 100 national and local authorities across 4 continents

Neontribe are a web development agency firm with a strong pedigree in developing products with a social ethos through agile design methodologies.

Enabled by Design – are a team of designers who build user centred and people powered products and services

Social Spider’s work in the partnership has been led by Mark Brown, their Development Director and one of the UK’s leading writers on the subject of mental health and mental health services.

More CAMHS Ready Variations are Possible

The CAMHS Ready team are interested in finding partners for new projects realted to young people’s mental health. If you’re a service wanting to develop digital solutions to mental health challenges faced by young people you can try CAMHS Ready here and contact the team here.

About Joe Roberson

Joe is an ex-children's mental health advocate and participation worker turned digital innovator. He co-wrote the groundbreaking Headspace Toolkit (2005) and Through the Maze (2008). For the last 18 months he's been leading MOMO, running MyAPT and writing for Innovation Labs.

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