Young people co-design website around mental health

6 April 2021

Young people from across East Sussex, aged 12-20, have been involved in developing a brand-new website for Discovery College.

The college is a partnership of different organisations, headed by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, that create and deliver co-produced courses that any young person in East Sussex can join, to look after their mental health, enjoy themselves, be with other young people, and build their skills. 

The website was created by 13 participants on one of these courses, to communicate what Discovery College is and does. Young people were involved in selecting web designer Ross Andrews Clifford (Junction 44) and web developer Chloe Taylor (Little Blue House) to work with them. 

Catherine Orbach, project manager at Culture Shift reflected on the project: “It has been an extraordinary collaboration with young people shaping the content of the website, making it far more than a simple ‘shop window’ for Discovery College. Across every page of the site young people’s voices come through sharing their experience and their tips for managing all aspects of mental health from anxiety to depression, loneliness. Never has this been more needed. The opportunities for interaction bubble across every page, inviting young people to share their stories of success, their creative work, their tips for survival.”

This website project is part of a partnership between Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Culture Shift. It has been made possible by funds from Arts Council England. 

Co-design is the guiding principle for Discovery College, a sister programme to Recovery College. Young people with lived experience of mental health challenges play a key role in designing the programme of arts and psycho-educational courses to support young people’s mental health. Discovery College has been running for a number of years. A new partnership with Lewes-based arts charity Culture Shift and support from Arts Council England is enabling Discovery College to expand and grow. 

The core team delivering the project have been quite amazed and delighted by the by the experience. Rivkah Cummerson, Participation Lead at CAMHS said: “I was really nervous embarking on this project as due to Covid-19 restrictions we had to build this site completely online. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the patience and enthusiasm of everyone involved. Ross and Chloe made their creative process visible and interactive and went to tremendous lengths to create ever new avenues for collaboration.”  

“Young people have consistently told us that they want to show their communities and the world that experiencing mental health challenges is not a barrier to having strengths, talent, hopes and aspirations. Through the website they can now share this and more with us and, like everyone else involved with the project, I am delighted with the result.

“Designing Together was the name of the course we delivered to a really switched on group of young people, reflected Ross Andrews Clifford and Chloe Taylor, web designer and developer. 

"Everyone ought to be proud of what they achieved; a dynamic and interactive resource and information website for Discovery College’s courses, which will bring awareness to its uniquely supportive role within the mental health arena for vulnerable young people.” 

The website helps shine a light on a support programme for young people and the evolving programme of arts and psycho-education courses. 

The new website can be viewed here.