My Voice Matters is the theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week 2024 (Monday 5 to Sunday 11 February), an awareness campaign organised by charity Place2Be.
My Voice Matters is about giving children and young people the tools they need to express themselves and be heard.
Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust provides specialist inpatient mental health services for children and young people aged 13 to 18.
Nicole Mitchell is a Support Worker at Poplar Adolescent Unit at Rochford Hospital and gives an insight into how the staff support the young people they care for.
“Hello! My Name is Nicole and I have been working on Poplar Adolescent Unit at Rochford Hospital for around a year and a half. Before this I worked in adult inpatient services and in private mental health care.
“Our working day starts at 7am. As a support worker, I am allocated tasks throughout the day, but each day can vary greatly. I may also be allocated tasks such as security checks and being in charge of making sure everyone is served their meals.
“I also support the qualified nurses in the team with tasks such as creating care plans for our young people, carrying out physical health checks, and making referrals for any extra care they need.
“Carrying out observations makes up a large part of my role. This means providing one-to-one support for our young patients and engaging with them in a way they prefer and is best suited to their needs.
“As a support worker, I also act as an associate keyworker, so during my day I might have one-to-one catch ups with the young people I have been asked to work closely with. I will check on their wellbeing and listen to any concerns they may have, then follow these up with my colleagues so we can make any changes that may be necessary.
“One of my favourite parts of my job is helping to take young people on escorted leave. The length and location of leave can vary depending on their individual needs, but some of my favourite trips have been taking them to the cinema, bowling alley and for coffee and cake! Many young people find themselves in hospital for long periods of time so it’s really rewarding to join them in their journey to supporting them to settle back into their life outside of the ward.
“Games are a big hit at Poplar. They can get pretty competitive at times! Some Poplar classics include Dobble, Bananagrams and Articulate.
“Other activities that may take place are Pots and Pans (when the young people take over the kitchen!), movie nights and visits from pets.
“We have regular visits from therapy dogs as well as reptiles, and on a few occasions even a pony!
“Activities are always a great way to get to know the young people in a relaxed setting and build good therapeutic relationships.
“Whilst some elements of the job can be challenging, I feel lucky to say that I love my job and always leave work feeling fulfilled.
“I’m very grateful for the great relationships I have formed with my team, as well as the young people and their families during their stay on Poplar.
“Feeling as though I may have made a difference to a young person’s recovery journey is a badge I wear with pride, and I know this feeling is shared throughout the team.”Nicole Mitchell, Support Worker at Poplar Adolescent Unit at Rochford Hospital
Declan, a guide dog in training, visited the young people last year
The staff and young people baked cakes for World Mental Health Day last year
#WeCare – We want everyone who uses our services to have the best possible experience. Our care will be therapeutic, tailored to each patient’s individual needs, and focus on what they need to feel better.
Our five-year Strategic Plan sets out our priorities and commitments to deliver the highest quality and safest care possible.