CAMHS, Rights & Participation Team

The Rights and Participation Team for CAMHS (Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services) and SEND (Special & Educational Needs & Disability) functions as a children’s rights team, sitting within Surrey County Council.

This was a valuable visit for the partner as it was a really good chance for them to engage directly with their potential service users and hear their perspective.


The team includes young people with service experiences and functions under two umbrella aims:

  1. To ensure children and young people have an integrated voice in the services that affect them, and at all levels of those services, including initiating and developing change.
  2. To support children and young people to facilitate service user-led projects that ultimately improve the user experience (e.g. anti-stigma, mental health awareness etc.)

The team support children and young people who access emotional well-being and mental health services, and/or SEND services, to shape and influence services and practice. There are approx. 300 young people involved with the team on a regular basis.

What happened on the visit?

Senior members of the team went through a presentation on mental health, Camhs and the function of the Rights & Participation team. One of the CAMHS Youth Advisors also came along to share their own experience of ill mental health and their story of working with Camhs.

The young people were then set the challenge of answering this question: What is the best way to engage young people, increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma?

This involved them thinking of practical solutions and planning how these could work; e.g. a wellbeing bus to travel around schools.

Why was it a successful visit for young people?

The visit was really informative and stimulating for young people. The presentation involved vital signposting of mental health services that are specifically there for young people, including explanations of what happens when you access those services. It also helped challenge the stigma and misconceptions around mental health by opening up conversations; showing that it is okay to talk about mental health and mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of and are just as important as physical health issues.

Many of the young people expressed their disillusion with the lack of mental health services, particularly for their age group, so this session gave them the chance to productively voice their thoughts on these issues and have a say in possible solutions.

The challenge to think of how these services should develop to better reach young people really encouraged NCS young people to be really creative and inventive. Those who took part engaged really well with the session because they could see that their input was valued and listened to, thus potentially having real practical implications.

Why was it a successful visit for the partner?

This was a really valuable visit for the partner as it was a really good chance for them to engage directly with their potential service users and hear their perspective. For the Camhs team, it was a chance to demonstrate accountability and strengthen their mandate. Encouraging the young people to have a say in the format of these services was helpful in the team’s aim of making services be more accessible to young people; one of the key aims of the team’s involvement in the session was to receive this insight from young people in how to best engage other young people, people.

Asking the young people to imagine and plan how new/different services could be delivered meant that the team received lots of inventive ideas that they wouldn’t normally have access to or time to come up with themselves. They reported that there were some great ideas that should really help them better engage with young people in the area & go further in challenging the stigma and misconceptions around mental health.