Why There Needs To Be More Support For Young People's Mental Health
Many young people are not getting the support they need when they need it. Georgie, 16, explains why this needs to change.
Waiting lists are too long
I've been on the waiting list for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for over a year. Despite struggling for years, it's only recently that I've been given an 'initial assessment' and a formal diagnosis. And I'm only one young person out of millions.
Some young people are lucky and are seen reasonably quickly, but equally some of us are left for years with no support, almost as if our health doesn't matter as much. This needs to change, and the only way that this will change is if there is more mental health support for young people.
Not all schools prioritise mental health and wellbeing
We are fortunate today that mental health is a much more talked-about issue. When I was younger, I didn't understand what was wrong, or why I was struggling every day. It's only thanks to my school for being supportive, and one of my favourite YouTubers raising awareness, that I realised I should be taken seriously, that my issues are real, and that not everybody struggles to get out of bed in the morning.
People are now aware that mental ill-health is an issue for many young people, but support from the Government is still lacking. I am fortunate enough to be at a school that makes mental health and wellbeing a priority, but I am also aware that many people aren't that lucky. Wellbeing should be a priority in every school, not just a select few. With the growing pressure on young people to perform well in exams, the Government needs to act and standards need to change. This has been said before but I'd like to highlight it again: schools should be judged as much on wellbeing as they are on exam results. Isn't our wellbeing more important than the exam results we get?
How long is too long for young people to wait when they're in need?
I was recently given a six-week bridging course through an outside company while I await my CAMHS referral. The bridging course was run by my local mental health services as a way to break up the waiting time. Mine was run as an online service, with questionnaires to fill out and a brief introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Although it was useful, it was also very short. If it has taken me a year to get to a bridging course, how long will it take me to get through to CAMHS?
The answer is too long. There is in no way enough support for young people's mental health. With increasing pressure on children as young as six, we need a support network for children of all ages that can be accessed quickly by everyone. The future of our country depends on a working, accessible form of mental health support for all young people, whether they are seven or 17.
Currently, we do not have that kind of system. The support available to us now is not good enough. That's not the fault of CAMHS, who try their hardest to reach out to young people. It's due to a lack of support and funding. Our future relies on the decisions the Government is making. One of those decisions needs to be to increase the support for us and to make young people's mental health a priority.
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Author: Georgie, 16