Transforming Youth Mental Health Services in Norfolk & Waveney

Young people and mental health professionals discussing services in Norfolk and Waveney

Young people from the Norfolk Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) and other youth groups have been working closely with Norfolk County Council, Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) and other mental health service providers to help transform services for children and young people.

Young people have shared their experiences of mental health support and their aspirations for services in the future. Young people have inputted to consultations and workshops, spoken at conferences and training events, and are now helping to trial new initiatives, steer projects and co-produce resources.

CW: discussion of mental health including depression

Young people’s views are insightful, wise and make absolute sense. They have been an anchor to which I have returned time after time. Including young people in “professional” arenas has added an enormous amount.  For example at a major Mental Health conference held at UEA last year we included young people’s views and experiences throughout; a definite change for an academic conference!  Their opinions are genuinely listened to and increasingly seen as critical.

Dr Jon Wilson, Consultant Psychiatrist at NSFT
CW: discussion of mental health including depression, anxiety, self harm and suicide

Hearing the voices of young people and their experiences really makes me sit up and listen and certainly enables me to better be able to support improvements in mental health services for young people. Participation and co-production is not easy but when we fully engage young people from the beginning and we truly value their insights I believe we always get better outcomes and the work is always more enjoyable.

Dr Tim Clarke, Senior Clinical Research Associate at NSFT
CW: discussion of mental health including depression and suicide

Various groups of young people have been directly involved in shaping proposals and plans throughout including various check-in sessions, a key two day design workshop, and a day’s symposium with Youth Advisory Board representatives.  We now have a Young People’s Advisory Group as part of our governance structure, and even in the midst of the challenges of COVID, young people have been actively part of the process through weekly online meetings.

The insight and involvement we’ve had from a variety of young people has been absolutely invaluable to the ongoing process of transforming children and young people’s mental health services in Norfolk & Waveney.  In fact, it was feedback from children, young people and families over many months that flagged up key problems and issues in the first place, and ongoing engagement and feedback has provided positive solutions, challenging questions, and kept the process on track.

Simon Paylor, CYPMHS Transformation Programme Manager at Norfolk County Council
CW: discussion of mental health including depression and anxiety

It’s been incredible to be involved in this work as for so many years, young people’s voices were being ignored, which led to services that did not live up to the appropriate standard we now strive to achieve. Being listened to seems like such a small thing, but it means the world to us young people who have been considered a burden when we are not- we are people with thoughts and opinions too, people who just want to shape a better world.

I’m incredibly thankful for all of the professionals who involve us in these projects, who take us seriously, who truly listen and who truly want and value our help.

Ligija, 16, Breckland Youth Advisory Board
CW: discussion of mental health including depression, anxiety and eating disorders

Changes are already underway; new services such as the Kooth online support service have been introduced and Mental Health Support Teams are being rolled out in schools in North Norfolk, Kings Lynn, South Norfolk and Lowestoft from Jan 2021 onwards. MAP will be working hard to ensure that young people’s voices continue to stay at the centre of developments as more changes are introduced and become embedded in the services available to help young people in Norfolk and Waveney flourish and thrive.

Get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

If you are a young person affected by any of the issues mentioned on this page you can call our advice line for free on 0800 0744 454 or email us at 

For more information or support:


Norfolk and Waveney Mind

Young Minds

Student Minds