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Mental Health Awareness Week: how do you balance clinical guidelines with what young people want from their treatment?

‘Surviving or Thriving’ is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Led by the Mental Health Foundation, we at the Centre are supporting by sharing our own research and resources that prioritise shared decision-making and practice that puts young people and families at the heart of the care they receive.

To mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, we invited Dr Nick Midgley, Co-Director of the Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families & University College London to share his research and discussions around the question: ‘how do you balance clinical guidelines with what young people want from their treatment?’

Undoubtedly, talking with a doctor or psychiatrist about whether to take medication for a mental health condition can lead to one of the most difficult decisions that a young person can make. Dr Midgley looks at the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines for use of anti-depressants and what his team’s research says about young people’s views of using them in a timely blog on the Huffington Post. You can read it here.

Dr Midgley’s blog is supported by the release of our latest expert podcast in our Child in Mind series. The podcasts explore different areas of children and young people’s mental health and related difficulties and aim to empower parents and families to make informed decisions about mental healthcare.

The latest episode focuses on medication and further highlights the importance of bringing young people’s voices into the larger debate on the prescription of SSRI medication, especially in light of the increasing media coverage on their efficacy and safety, which may leave young people with more questions than answers.

Dr Midgley said:

"In order to make the leap from surviving to thriving we need to listen to and learn from young people. Their individual experiences are an essential part of the process of sensitive, supportive and successful treatment. Research studies need to be informed by young people’s experiences, and place that at the heart of our learning. That is the key to going beyond survival and building a future in which young people can thrive."

The latest podcast sees one of our Young Champions, Maisy, in conversation with Dr Peter Hindley, Chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and BBC Radio 4’s Claudia Hammond. They discuss the different experiences that young people might have depending on whether they are offered medication, taking medication, or stopping medication.

You can listen to the episode and the rest of the Child in Mind series on our iTunes and SoundCloud accounts and join in the online conversation across social media where we will be sharing information and comments with the hashtag #MHAW17.