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    Anna Freud to transform how it amplifies young voices

    Anna Freud will mark this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week (5-11 February) by launching a bold new approach to youth voice and participation.

    Speaking ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week, one of Anna Freud’s Young Champions Emily said: “I really do believe that to improve services, you need to get the perspective of young people. Older generations don’t have the same experiences of young people now – just thinking about social media for instance. And so, to understand all of that and make sure we’re all on the same page, you need to involve young people.”

    With these words in mind, Anna Freud is delighted to mark this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week (5-11 February) by launching its bold new approach to youth voice and participation.

    We’ll build on our existing participatory work with young people (aged 14+), parents and carers by adopting the Lundy model. This is a rights-based approach that covers four key domains, including:

    • Space: children, young people, parents and carers must be given safe, inclusive opportunities to form and express their views.

    • Voice: children, young people, parents and carers must be given the right support to express their views.

    • Audience: the views must be listened to by a professional with the power to make decisions.

    • Influence: the views must be acted on, as appropriate, and outcome fed back to children, young people, parents and carers.

    This creates a framework for to hear, listen and act upon the voices of those it works with, including young people, parents and carers.

    This participation framework will mean that we can make services and strategies around youth mental health more reflective of young people’s needs while also giving young people themselves a chance to increase their skills, confidence and wellbeing.

    Commenting on our participation strategy, Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, Chief Executive of Anna Freud, said:

    “Young people are experts at tackling the issues that affect them. Empowering them to have a real say in our work through our new Participation Strategy will make a huge different to the care and support they receive from health services.

    “Young people’s input should be meaningful and for the long-term. And so, when we say to children and young people that their voices matter, this means putting them and their families at the heart of our decision making.

    “Getting this right will take time, and we look forward to sharing our learning from our new strategy with others. Best of all, by working in partnership with young people and families, we will be able to make a difference that really matters to mental health services for young people and families.”

    Children's Mental Health Week is a mental health awareness week that empowers, equips and gives a voice to all children and young people in the UK. This year's theme is "My Voice Matters".

    Adopting the Lundy model of participation in our new strategy will mean that we can meet our duty under Article 12 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This states that every young person has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes on all matters affecting them, and to have those views considered and taken seriously.

    You can read Anna Freud’s participation strategy to find out how we’re putting children and young people at the heart of our decision-making. You can also download our latest Children’s Mental Health Week Mentally Healthy Schools toolkit to empower students in schools and colleges to have their say this week.