‘Passport’ style brief of young people’s mental health launched

A ‘passport’ style brief of key facts that children and young people using mental health services can use to help them avoid repeating their history and preferences is launched today (Thursday 15 Oct).

The ‘passport’ idea, which includes clinical information as well as key personal preferences, has been developed by young people, parents and carers and can now be used across care settings either on paper or on mobile phones.

The Future in Mind Report about improving Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said ‘You should only have to tell your story once, to someone who is dedicated to helping you, and you shouldn’t have to repeat it to lots of different people’ and the tool has been developed in line with this.

Since the report was published NHS England and partners have been working to address the issues it raised.

Around 850,000 or 9.6 per cent of children and young people aged between 5-16 years have a mental disorder.

In an average class of 30 schoolchildren, three will suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Dr Jackie Cornish, National Clinical Director, Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood, said: “No patient should need to repeat their history several times and innovations like this solve problems and make patients’ lives easier. We must do better to equip the next generation to cope with the challenges they will face, and if we get this right, as well as helping them achieve their potential we will be saving time and money for the future.”

The passports are written with the practitioner and can include as much or as little as the young person likes such as a summary of their issues, history, and preferences.

It is kept by the young person, is in their preferred format like a letter or in the form of a passport or even on their phone and can then be shown to professionals at any new service.

The idea came from a group of young people, parents, carers and professionals working with NHS England on improving integration between services. The group highlighted their frustrations about needing to repeat their history when accessing multiple services.

They said they did not feel empowered to pass on their information when they wanted to because services were commissioned by many different places.

Leanne, 20, who was key in drafting and developing the passport and video guidance as part of the group, said: “I feel very passionate about sharing my experiences as a service user to help make changes happen. As a tool, I hope the passport can go forward to make things a little easier for other people to help them to communicate their story in their way and prevent some of the difficulties we experienced.

“The development of the passport shows the real power of professionals and service users alike, coming together and working together to improve things for ourselves and for other people.”

Now, NHS England will encourage practitioners to use the passport template with young people as they transition to a new service and will be informing the NHS, Local Authorities and voluntary and independent sectors so they are aware of their use.

The information is written in a professional style so all care providers can understand the language used. It may also include a simpler version for the patient if required.

Dr Cornish added: “The passport is a way for young people to own the information about their time in a service and their story; it gives them a level of control they value and means they can share it with other services if they wish.

“We want to empower our young people as much as possible and when they told us this was something they felt would really help we immediately wanted to make it work for them. We hope all care providers will acknowledge the passports and use them across care settings.”

A video guide, also created by young people, on how to use the passport can be seen below.

NHS England is working closely with key partners on a major service transformation programme to significantly reshape the way services for children and young people with mental health needs are commissioned and delivered across all agencies over the next 5 years. This is in line with proposals in Future in Mind, the report of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce, and the recommendations in the Five Year Forward View.