Doctors at Addenbrooke's are prescribing videos of children talking about their chronic illnesses, to improve the wellbeing of other young patients with the same condition.
The films offer help, advice and peer support, caring for the physical and mental health of young patients as they undergo often grueling treatment.
The first videos focus on children with IBD, inflammatory bowel disorders, and have been developed by social enterprise IBDrelief alongside Addenbrooke's clinicians.
Max is one of the first young people to take part in the project and share his experiences. He was treated for Crohn's disease at Addenbooke's and talks about what it's like to have a colonoscopy.
Research shows young people with IBD have high rates of depression and a higher risk of developing depression compared to other young people, even those with other long term physical health conditions.
Children and young people with chronic illnesses are more likely to experience mental health problemsDr Robert Heuschkel, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist
Dr Robert Heuschkel, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist and CUH Clinical Director for Cambridge Children’s Hospital, said:
“Doctors and nurses mostly prescribe medication and deal with the medical aspects of the conditions, whilst these videos are helping patients understand more about coping in day-to-day life.
We know that children and young people with chronic illnesses are more likely to experience mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Hearing from other children about how they are navigating the reality of their illness, how they still do normal things for their age, like sleepovers or playing sports, can really help improve their emotional wellbeing and their longer-term outcomes."
This project is an example of how we will focus on both emotional wellbeing and physical health in the new Cambridge Children’s HospitalDr Robert Heuschkel, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist
Dr Heuschkel added:
"It's about treating the whole child, looking after their mental and emotional health from the very beginning of a chronic physical illness.”
Cambridge Children’s is a unique collaboration between Cambridge University Hospitals, the University of Cambridge and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, to care for children and young people in A Whole New Way, integrating physical and mental health with research. To read more about the project, please visit the Cambridge Children's website.
The next phase of the IBDrelief platform is to develop videos with the Addenbrooke’s team on aspects of emotional wellbeing that will help children and families with other long-term conditions, something that will be rolled out to more patient groups in the coming months.
For more information on IBDrelief, please visit their website.