#FightingFor Equality In Mental Health Services
Our Activist George was told he would have to wait 40 weeks for mental health care. He's now #FightingFor more equality in mental health services.
Back when I was at rock bottom a couple of years ago, I told my parents it was time I sought some professional help.
It’s important that I outline the severity of the state I was in when I was just 16 years old. I had severe anxiety, panic attacks twice on a daily basis and I had developed OCD resulting in me washing my hands 50-100x per day. And on top of that, I was having intrusive suicidal thoughts. So yes, it was time to seek some professional help.
I told my parents everything and we thought the best course of action to take first would be to see my GP. Very luckily he was incredibly understanding of adolescent mental health problems and referred me straight away to the local CAMHS. I thought this was great. My CAMHS appointment was in just 2 weeks and then I’d start understanding what was going on inside my head.
The forthcoming appointment was not what I expected at all, quite the opposite. As my parents and I waited nervously in the CAMHS waiting area, for about an hour, we were then ushered into a small room. A lovely lady came in and started talking, asking lots of questions about what I was feeling, experiencing and why I thought it was happening. I cried the whole way through this session. Her reply came in a merry tone, ‘It’s okay George, everything will be fine. We’re going to get you through this, do not worry.’ Feeling slightly encouraged by this intense optimism, I felt a little less anxious, but she wasn’t quite finished. The last thing she told us was ‘There is one thing I must tell you though, there is a waiting list of about 40 weeks’.
This had a devastating effect on my already desperately poor mental health. After being told that everything would be okay to suddenly being told I would have to wait a painful 40 weeks was completely soul destroying and I was terrified about what would happen next, as were my parents. I felt like because I didn’t have any ‘visible’ signs of self-harm or hadn’t attempted suicide, I wasn’t seen as a worse enough case to be seen urgently. This is a similar story for millions of young people across the UK. I am very fortunate that my parents could send me privately for my mental health care, however a lot of young people have this chance. I got a call 2 weeks before my 18th birthday saying CAMHS could now help me - this was now a whole 2 years later.
That’s why I’m #FightingFor equality in Mental Health services across the UK. It’s incredibly important that every case and every young person suffering from a mental illness gets equal care, whether there are visible or not visible signs.
Despite all the waiting and the struggle to get help, it was the best thing I ever did. My mental health is now in such a strong position and I have the tools, coping mechanisms and use my experience to encourage others to get help, it can be life changing. I was determined to help other young people so last year I became a qualified Youth Mental Health First Aider and can now help young people in critical situations.
I believe everyone should be fighting for something to tackle the mental health crisis across the UK, because everyone knows someone who has struggling or is currently struggling. Let’s fight for them together.
What are you #FightingFor?
Now in our 25th year, we are #FightingFor children and young people's mental health. We are leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported through life, whatever the challenges.
Join our fight. Check out what we are doing for our 25th anniversary, and tell us who, or what you are #FightingFor.
We all have a reason to be #FightingFor children and young people's mental health. What's yours?