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Working together towards next steps
Ending the conversation should be a collaborative process that includes us on any decisions made.
Nadia: So, you’re nearing the end of your conversation with the young person. You’ve heard from them, gathered lots of information and supported them along the way. You’ve established rapport, built trust, and they felt comfortable enough to share what’s really going on. That’s great! But, what next?
Jo: We heard from many young people that it can be helpful to leave with some practical steps moving forward, advice, and support from you. We’re going to talk about working together with us to do just that.
Liv: Many young people reported that crisis workers were too quick to jump to calling emergency services, while others received very dismissive responses, such as, “Just get over it.” Both not ideal responses. This is why working with us is incredibly important, not only to understand the level of our risk, but to understand how to better support us.
Nadia: Offer as much choice as you can, within the constraints of your job role. Explain that you want to help, but that you want to work with us, to ensure that our needs are being adequately addressed.
Jo: Understand that we will know ourselves better than you will. Don’t talk for us, or decide what happens to us, without first consulting us, offering advice, and letting us be the decision makers.
Liv: This is not only empowering, but also ensures that the young person is supported in a way that really benefits them. Even the smallest choices are important. We understand that sometimes we can’t control what happens. But having a choice in how it happens, that helps a lot.
Nadia: Ask us what is helpful, and allow for our individual needs. We might have some great ideas and insight! And even if we need more guidance from you, that’s okay. The fact that you’ve asked us and included us, will mean a lot to us, and will lead to a more positive ending.
Jo: Remember that we feel extremely vulnerable when reaching out in a mental health crisis. Ensure that you keep your language accessible, and that we are both understanding each other. Ask for feedback on whether what you’re doing is helpful, try saying, “Does this work for you, or shall we try something else?
Liv: Collaboration ensures that all parties can work together towards a common goal, and is essential in helping us move forward in a safe and supported way.
Working collaboratively with the young person is important throughout your conversation but most importantly when agreeing the ‘next steps’ and wrapping things up. Many young people reported that it is helpful to leave with some practical steps moving forwards, advice and some offerings from you.
In the film we talked about some ways that can help us to collaborate. We have expanded on these below to help you bring them into your conversations moving forward.
Liv: We are now going to talk about offering advice and building a plan with a young person, using these collaboration techniques.
Nadia: It’s really helpful for us when we have a plan moving forward. This doesn’t have to be a safety plan, and we know you have your own job roles to fulfil around that, but these same tips can also be applied to help inform the safety plan process, as well.
Jo: Use the collaboration tools we talked about earlier to make sure we have the decision-making powers, and that our voice is heard and responded to.
Liv: Remember to be honest with what you can and can’t provide, and to keep in line with that with the next steps moving forward.
Nadia: After a call, meeting or interaction, many young people are just looking for some advice and guidance on what to do next. This doesn’t have to be, like, a step by step plan of their entire life, but young people did report that having a plan for the evening, or for when they are next feeling unsafe, can be really beneficial.
Jo: Pouring your heart out just to be hung up on, or to be told to leave, or to be given basic and unhelpful advice, can feel like a let-down. So make sure you leave the young person with some useful advice and practical steps to help them.
Liv: You could ask, “What are you going to do after this conversation?
Nadia: Then work with them to figure out some helpful things they could do after the conversation, to help them feel calm, relaxed and safe.
Jo: Many young people reported that it feels dismissive or belittling to be offered basic feedback, or feedback that simply doesn’t apply. Most of us will have heard time and time again, to do things like, take a bath, go for a walk, or have a cup of tea… You can ask us whether we’ve been through these basic steps, but, chances are we already have, and if not, the crisis might have escalated beyond being solvable by a cup of tea. Make suggestions that are more specific to the individual.
Liv: When providing a plan, of course follow procedures in your job role, but remember to be collaborative, offering choice and involving the young person in decision making.
Nadia: This will help ensure that we are leaving feeling comfortable, supported and listen to, with steps to help us moving forward. It will also help you feel more confident in our safety, when we leave.
Ask ‘What are you going to do after this conversation?’
Ask if we’ve gone through basic self-care steps.
Ask us what is helpful and allow for our individual needs. We might have some great ideas and insight just need more guidance from you.
Appreciate that we will probably know what works for us better than you will. Allow us to be an expert in our care and give us time to explain how we are feeling.
Active listening is not only empowering, but it also ensures you are providing support beneficial for the young person in front of you.
Remember, we feel extremely vulnerable when reaching out in a mental health crisis. Keep your language accessible and make sure we both understand each other. Avoid jargon or overly medical language, especially if we aren’t using it.
Don’t talk for us or decide what happens to us without first consulting, offering choice and letting us be the decision maker.
Offer as much choice as you can to adequately address our needs within the constraints of your job role. Sometimes we can’t control what will happen, but being involved in how it happens can make a huge difference to us.
Make offerings that are more specific to the individual to avoid your advice coming across as dismissive like – take a bath, go for a walk, have a cup of tea. Try saying ‘does this work for you, or do we need to find another option?’
When providing a plan, follow the procedure set out in your job role, but remember to collaborate, offer choices, and include the young person in decision making.
What factors might hinder collaborative working with a young person in crisis and what can you do to address them?