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The CCG was awarded Vanguard status in 2015, and with this funding we have been able to commission Dartington Social Research Unit to map the existing mental health service provision for children and young people and adults across our footprint, with the view to inform system redesign.

More than 70 system leaders attended a two-day workshop to map the complex system, including clinicians, people with lived experience, local police, practitioners, operational directors and local authorities. This is the first time that this complexity of systems dynamics has been brought to the arena of mental health.

Prior to the workshop, an engagement event for service-users from children’s and adults services was held and the research unit also interviewed system leaders across the CCG’s footprint, including clinicians, CCG leaders and primary care and social care colleagues. This all helped to maximise the outcomes of the work that the research unit will deliver.

We held an engagement event for community providers of mental health services, including voluntary sector and third sector organisations. This helped the research unit to capture the whole-system map, ensuring all voices were represented.

A key element of that redesign work is a first-of-its-kind survey of local schoolchildren, to measure their mental health and wellbeing. More than 6,500 pupils have taken the ChildrenCount Wellbeing Survey so far, answering questions about antisocial behaviour, substance misuse, anxiety or depression, and relationships with family and friends.

The survey has been commissioned by the CCG, using funds from a successful national bid. We commissioned Dartington Social Research Unit to undertake the survey, as well as the wider system redesign work, with support from Torbay Council and Devon County Council.

There are many factors affecting young people and their ability to access education, and we believe that attention to students as individuals is essential in producing successful and confident young adults. Students progress better when they feel listened to and are given the skills to navigate the challenges and pressures in their lives.

When the results are collated, participating schools will be able to better understand their pupils’ needs and wellbeing, and have insights into improvement planning for young people.

When looking at the system, the research unit has partnered with Professor Peter Hovmand and his colleagues at the Social System Design Lab in St Louis, Missouri, USA. After the information-finding is completed, the research unit will have a clear understanding of how the individual systems work with each other, and how everyone involved within mental health across South Devon and Torbay works within the wider system. The system can then be scientifically analysed and changes made to create a truly joined-up system that meets the needs of people in the long term.