Six young people’s wishes for mental health services this year
If you could change mental health services over the next year, what would you want to change? Our six youth advisers share their thoughts.
For the past two years we six have acted as Youth Advisors on the Amplified program at YoungMinds. Our aim is to increase both young people and parent participation within their own health care and more general mental health services. Mental health affects all young people in many ways, whilst ultimately we wish we could fix the prevalence of mental illness, we have put together some of our wishes for the mental health services in the new year.
My wish is for early intervention and prevention, by tackling young people's mental health issues before they get to crisis level. That being said, early intervention needs to be embedded in primary and secondary schools, educating young people about mental health, equipping them with the knowledge so if they do start to experience the symptoms of a mental health problem, it can be recognised and treated before reaching desperation. This will also then stem the flow of waiting lists, as Lauren says.
My wish is for waiting lists to be more manageable. I recently lost a close friend whom, like so many, was struggling with mental health. I wish that this hadn’t of happened, however, whilst I cannot change the past I can help shape the future. Therefore, my wish this year is about waiting times and mental health services. Waiting lists are at an all-time high and people are waiting far too long to get the help they need and deserve. The services are drowning in referrals, and simply don’t have the capacity to deal with this. No one should have to wait 10 months for help. We need to change this.
Trans and non-binary issues
My wish is for trans and non-binary people to be more than just an afterthought in young people's mental health services. There needs to be more training and understanding from professionals on how to create a trans/non-binary inclusive environment. If a young person doesn't feel comfortable to come out to a mental health professional, their treatment won't be as effective as it could be if they felt comfortable to explain exactly what they're feeling and why without fear of judgment or discrimination. This is a very real fear for a lot of trans/non-binary young people who have experienced negative reactions to their gender identity from family, friends, doctors and teachers in their everyday lives.
Addressing Black and Ethnic Minority groups
My wish for the mental health system is to better address the needs of black and ethnic minority groups. All services need to be inclusive and to have things in place for supporting these groups. Some of the ways in which this can be changed in the mental health system include: recruiting more staff that are from ethnic minority backgrounds; culturally appropriate care; working around parents’ ideology of mental health; and the use of translators.
Compassionate inpatient care
My wish is for every young person who needs it to be able to access good, compassionate inpatient care. That means staying in a unit close to their friends and families, being supported to continue with their education and personal development, and above all being listened to and valued as a human being. An inpatient admission is the most vulnerable time of young people’s lives; treating them with respect and compassion is essential. Good care at this difficult time can be life-changing. I hope that more families can get the understanding and treatment they’re looking for in 2019.
General understanding of mental health
My wish is for a greater understanding of mental health for everyone and across all groups. Everyone has mental health, whether that be good or poor, and some of us have mental health issues (which doesn’t automatically mean poor mental health!). I feel it’s so important that people have an understanding of things that help them to stay level and okay, whether they have diagnoses or not, and a better understanding of the range of ways to reach out for more support from networks to reduce pressure on services where possible.
Our wishes are just that, wishes. Broadly, we wish for greater understanding and training for professionals, both in wider ways and for specific groups. However, we truly believe that by working together they can be reached. Young people and decision makers both have a key role to play in this, and 2019 is a great time to make a change. Change doesn’t come in a day, or even a year, but shifting the culture around mental health and increasing understanding starts now. So, our last wish is to the decision-makers:
Listen. Problem Solve. Care. And most importantly let’s make 2019 a year of great change in the mental health world!
Our #FightingFor Campaign
We’re #FightingFor a new era for young people’s mental health, where help is available to every young person who reaches out.