About Participation

YoungMinds are the leading experts in participation in children and young people’s mental health. Find out more about our approach.

What is participation?

There are lots of words around participation, like shared decision making, service user involvement, co-production, co-design, youth engagement, patient and public voice and experts by experience. It can be hard to know where to start so we asked our youth advisors to come up with a way of describing what it is. 

"Put simply, it’s when young people engage in the decisions and actions made around their own mental health. That includes the services they access, the issues they face and the various organisations they’ll come into contact with at both a local and national level. Participation creates change to make the experiences of young people better and takes place through young people working as equals with adults and with each other."

Participation creates change to make the experiences of young people better
Amplified Youth Advisors

YoungMinds Participation Values

YoungMinds participation is participation that:


We always start from young peoples' experiences meaning we only work on, and involve young people in, issues that matter to them.

is safe and ethical.

Our participation is always designed with the safety, experience and motivation of young people as the primary consideration. 

drives change.

Our participation results in positive change for children and young people, and the mental health system as a whole.

is expert and always improving. 

By listening to children, young people and parents and incorporating new evidence from participation, health care and beyond we aim to keep improving our approach to participation.

shifts power.

We design participation that shifts the power in relationships between young people and adults, and between professionals and service users.

is part of everything we do.

The commitment to participation is championed from the top of our organisation and embedded throughout our work.

is transformative for young people.

We offer young people the tools they need to participate, and help them build skills and knowledge they can use in the future.

builds on the best in everyone.

We design participation to harness the unique strengths that young people, adults and communities already have.

amplifies the lesser heard.

In all our work we make sure we recognise, understand and create space for the most marginalised voices, to ensure their needs and priorities are met.

is creative.

We empower young people to share their story in the way they want to, using innovative and self-created methods to help adults visualise and understand their world.

Participation Consultancy

We work closely with the key national organisations in children’s mental health, including the Department of Health and NHS England, including commissioners, providers and individual professionals to promote participation. We are passionate about the involvement of children and young people in every part of their care and the services they use.

Our story

We launched our first national programme to involve children and young people in mental health services in 2008. The Very Important Kids (VIK) programme engaged hundreds of young people and professionals across the country and was a lead contributor to the increasing awareness and practice of participation in CAMHS. 

YoungMinds Vs-, a national youth-led mental health campaign, followed VIK and increased youth voice within strategic decision making by supporting hundreds of young people to work with local Healthwatch, CCGs, Health and Wellbeing Boards and local authorities.

We are committed to involving young people with lived experience of mental illness, especially those experiencing extra vulnerabilities, in the highest levels of national decision making around youth mental health in England.

As well as Amplified, some of our landmark participation work has included:

  • Co-producing the nine participation priorities for the national NHS England mental health transformation programme CYP-IAPT programme
  • Engaging over 1,000 children and young people online and face to face in the development of the key Government mental health policy ‘Future in Mind’
  • Working with the Department of the Health in 2018 to involve school pupils in the consultation on their children’s mental health green paper
  • Supporting the participation of young people in the national Big Lottery programme Headstart
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