We Can Talk

Our online learning platform has been co-produced with young people, hospital staff and mental health experts.

If you work in an acute hospital and want to improve the experience of children and young people in mental health crisis, welcome, you’ve come to the right place.

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Hear from those impacted by We Can Talk project

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Video transcript

Keshia: We Can Talk has definitely been more than a project. It’s more of a way of practice, a way of functioning, a way of just being a better human, even though we are focused on children and young people, it’s a better way to understand those around us, wherever it is somebody passing you in the corridor or somebody you work with, it gives you a better idea of looking beyond the person and seeing beyond what their emotions could be, the whole iceberg, what’s underneath. It just gives you a whole new way of thinking and reflecting on things. And that’s something that you’ll have with you for life. 

Laura: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a massive increase in children with mental health coming into hospitals. And we just don’t have enough knowledge. We don’t have enough skills to effectively care for these patients. And I think especially what we’ve learnt from the project is that, you know, what the experience that that patient has when they come into hospital can completely change their outlook on hospitals in general, and on their stays and really affect them going forward and on discharge and how they respond. So I think, the more people can be educated and can have that knowledge and that skillset to care for these patients. Like we said before, even if it’s just a case of, you know, making small changes, I think is really, really important. And I think really beneficial for patients and for staff, it will make our experience of these patients and how we care for them a lot more positive, and I think personally, you’ll feel a lot better about the care you’ve provided, if you’ve got that knowledge and skillset to do so. 


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Video transcript

Liv: Well, the We Can Talk project just means so much to me. I think it’s just something I couldn’t even imagine was real. When I look back at me being in a bad place, I could never imagine doing what I’m doing now and sort of telling my story in a way. And I think it just gives me a lot of closure about a lot of things. And I think at the time when I’d be in hospital in a mental health crisis, I’d just think literally everyone was against me and everyone thought I was this, this and that. And then I think being part of the We Can Talk project, having talking to hospital staff and like being in a co-produced project and working with hospital staff, it’s just been like amazing, ’cause it made me realise like people weren’t judging me or people weren’t trying to make things worse for me, people just don’t always get it. And it’s just so amazing to like try and help staff understand what young people are going through and like meeting so many other amazing young people and just feeling like not alone and just feeling like all of what I was feeling was like valid, and that I wasn’t the only person feeling like that. And just literally being like part of a little family and yeah, I just love it. 

Stuart: So I got involved because I think it’s really important for young people to have a platform to share their experiences, although our experiences are unique and we all have different experiences, I know that I’m not the only person who’s had negative hospital experiences. And I know that there’s work and there’s people who want to do something towards changing that. And I’m hoping that by getting involved in this, I can also inspire more young people to want to work collaboratively or co-produce with health professionals, ’cause I don’t think we’re supposed to be… it’s supposed to be an us against them. I think by getting involved in this kind of work where I can speak about my lived experience in a healthy environment, as health professionals are willing to listen, we can start to have a conversation about how to improve care for young people.


Working together to create change

Hospital staff working in acute care settings consistently report a lack of confidence and competency in caring for children with mental health needs and research shows too many young people have negative experiences of presenting to hospital due to their mental health.

We Can Talk is a co-designed and co-delivered project working with over 50 hospitals to train more than four thousand staff to transform the experience of young people and hospital staff around this area of care. In addition to training we support organisations to start the change process through local Quality Improvement projects. Learn how to join the We Can Talk project.

Barts Health NHS Trust
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
Bedford Hospital NHS Trust
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust
View all hospitals and trusts we work with

An evidenced-based education framework for hospital staff

We Can Talk co-produced (with hospital staff, young people and mental health experts) an evidenced-based competency framework in children and young people’s mental health, which we then used to create accessible, young people (and staff) friendly Principles.

Our one-day We Can Talk Core Curriculum training is based on this framework and has been completed by more than 2,000 hospital staff. Independent analysis by the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) shows the training results in significant improvements in the knowledge, skills and confidence of any member of staff who sees children and young people in their role (clinical and non-clinical).

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NHS Health Education England Nursing times awards 2020 RCN Awards 2021 Child Outcomes Research Consortium NHS England GMHSCP

We Can Talk is led by Healthy Teen Minds.