Elvey, Rebecca, Bower, Peter, Catchpole, Roger, Kendal, Sarah, Kirk, Susan and Pryjmachuk, Steven (2013) Mental health self- care support in children and young people: exploring provider and user perspectives. In: 19th annual Qualitative Health Research Conference, 27th - 29th October 2013, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. (Unpublished)

Various approaches exist for supporting children and young people (CYP) in self‐caring for their mental health, but little is known about how different models are experienced when applied in practice. Six case‐study sites in England and Wales were sampled as exemplars of different models of mental health self‐care support for CYP. Semi‐structured interviews were used to explore the perceptions and experiences of CYP (aged 5‐17), families and staff (various professionals and support workers) at the sites. Fifty‐two participants took part in interviews and
the verbatim transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis.
CYP, families and staff agreed that building self‐
care skills, using practical techniques, was important; support could be gained through structured games and activities, or informal sharing of tips and ideas. Peer support was facilitated through groups and online forums and at these sites, the emotional benefits of shared experiences, particularly in reducing feelings of isolation, were appreciated. Staff emphasised the importance of ensuring the support was accessible and acceptable and of gaining the trust of CYP and
families. The value of a welcoming, non‐judgemental ambience was mentioned repeatedly; CYP and families in particular ascribed this to the manner and qualities of the staff, who they trusted and felt comfortable with. For CYP, being listened to, having time to tell their own stories and being treated with empathy and compassion were particularly important.
These findings bring together multiple perspectives on models of self‐care support for CYP’s mental health which have salience for research and practice in these fields.

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