As part of our latest series of features and interviews focusing on digital mental health, HTN spoke to Lynsey Eland, the Children and Young People (CYP) Service Manager at Carlisle Eden Mind, to find out how the organisation has been utilising SilverCloud’s suite of online ‘Space from…’ products to complement its in-person support.
The aim for the charity was to increase the availability of mental health services to young people living in the area, through digital therapy.
After selecting the SilverCloud ‘Space from…’ suite, which includes programmes dedicated to helping young people with anxiety, depression, stress, positive body image, and resilience, as well as courses for adults on how to support anxious children and teenagers, the mental health support charity found that by using the online tools it had managed to reach three times as many service users.
Carlisle Eden Mind (CE Mind) has been supporting people with their mental health for around 25 years and had seen demand for children and young people’s services surge recently, including during the COVID pandemic.
Working directly with children and young people through its ‘Your Voice’ advocacy service, which encourages young people to use their voice to access support and understand their own mental health, CE Mind was facing several challenges and barriers to delivery – from geography, distance and communication, to stigma, capacity and funding.
The charity decided on including a complementary digital approach and settled on SilverCloud’s package, which contains seven individual programmes and can offer both supported and unsupported assistance to children. The suite also includes the option of online coaching and support from a CE Mind specialist and 24/7 access to digital tools and resources.
“We always felt digital could really offer something to young people”
Having worked at the CE Mind branch for 12 of its 25 years, Lynsey’s work now focuses on supporting therapy programmes and networks, as well as service users themselves. She explained to HTN how she added SilverCloud to the charity’s support kit. “It was constantly in our mind that we wanted to look at some kind of digital offer,” she said.
“The reason we were looking at that is because Cumbria is quite a rural landscape and quite spread out – and that brings quite a lot of challenges for delivering services with equality of any kind of description. This is due to poor public transport and all those things that go with living in a lovely area but a very widespread one. We always felt digital could really offer something to young people who find direct and face-to-face access too tricky. We’d looked at doing it ourselves and it was just too expensive for us as a charity.
“We then came across SilverCloud, who very kindly offered Mind a free period for staff during the lockdown. I initially tried the adult version and really liked it. A lot of the feedback we get from young people is that they don’t like jargon, gimmicks or being spoken down to, so what I really liked was that the adult version felt very comfortable in its use of language and just a nice space. It feels really calming in its design and layout,” she said.
Having engaged with the adult version, Lynsey then began to explore the CYP programmes. “SilverCloud shared the programmes so that we could have a look before we decided to go ahead, and we just felt it fit really well,” she continued.
“One of the big pluses was that it could be, what we call, a blended model where we offer individual sessions alongside it, so that it’s not all online. For some young people, that’s still not what they’re looking for – despite what society may think about young people wanting everything online. It means that we offer it to them alongside face-to-face work as well, where in between our sessions they’re using the app to dip in and out and to help them with some things that they might be finding tricky when they’re not in sessions with us, or just as expanded learning.”
Before using SilverCloud, CE Mind was supporting ‘around 30 young people at any one time’, but that number has now increased to around 90 people, on a rolling and ongoing basis.
On how adding SilverCloud’s online resources to its mental health toolkit has helped with capacity, Lynsey added: “If we’re to see a young person in a particular part of Cumbria, that could take us over two-and-a-half hours for one appointment because of the travel time involved. If it is suitable to offer that [digital] service [instead], that’s cutting our time down hugely and, in that time, we could be seeing a number of young people. That’s not [intended] to take away that time from that individual though, it’s still on offer.”
In some cases, the charity says, using SilverCloud has cut the support time for a review session from two-and-a-half hours to 15 minutes.
“It’s almost a way to navigate around the young person until they are ready to come forward”
Of the challenges and learnings, she experienced while adding a digital offering to the traditionally face-to-face services, Lynsey highlighted that it was important to “re-align expectations” around rates of engagement, expect that it won’t necessarily work for everyone and that “it is going to be different” in approach.
“It takes the young person to be really ready and able and wanting to engage and break down any barriers to make sure they’ve got the best chance of success,” she stated.
“The other learning is to make sure you’ve got really good communication with who your referrers are, so that they know how this service is best going to support. A brilliant part of SilverCloud is that you can send them a demo account and say to, for example, some of our heads of year in schools, ‘have a look, feel comfortable with it yourself and then you know what you are sharing’.”
As for the future of CE Mind’s digital services and utilisation of SilverCloud in particular, Lynsey says: “We’d very much like to continue with it. We are currently seeking funding to be able to do that. We would very much like to explore [working with] with parents.
“We did a mini pilot of a few sessions and they worked really well, for example with the ‘Supporting an Anxious Teen’ [programme]. We’d like to do that more as an offer. The feedback we’ve had from parents is that this is really good. As that can often be delivered un-supported, that’s a really great thing, as it doesn’t take a lot of staff time. It’s almost a way to navigate around the young person until they are ready to come forward and want some support.”
“We go into schools and deliver workshops on mental health and wellbeing to young people. And what to do if you feel like you need some support. That’s important but often then the next stage isn’t there for young people. So, when they put their hand up and go ‘oh, actually, I think maybe I do need a little bit of help’, there’s a bit of a gap. I think SilverCloud sits really well in that space,” she concluded.
Find out more about the topic of digital mental health in our dedicated feature channel. You can also discover more about the SilverCloud approach in our companion to this piece, a forthcoming interview with the company co-founder, Professor John Sharry.
The full case study information from Carlisle Eden Mind can also be found, here.