Young people with first-hand experience of mental ill health have explained their ideas for improving services and making them more accessible during a trip to Westminster.
Around 12 members of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Youth Council met Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, on Tuesday (12 April).
During the visit, they talked about the importance of providing as much treatment as possible for young people with mental health issues at home rather than in hospital settings, and also described their ideas for raising awareness within schools about the help which is available.
This included making sure at least one staff member is trained in mental health, providing peer mentoring, including emotional checklists in pupils’ homework diaries and displaying more posters and leaflets so that young people know where to go if they need support.
Meg Teviotdale, 22, who is based in Norwich, was among the delegation who travelled to London. She received care from NSFT several years ago after suffering with anxiety. She said: “Visiting Westminster was really amazing and our meeting with the Shadow Minister went really well. We were also lucky enough to be given a tour of the building, which was a really lovely experience.
“We decided our priorities for discussion would be the costs of hospital admission, and how that money could be better spent treating people at home. We also focused on education, as it plays such a large part in young people’s lives.
“We explained some of the things we thought could be done to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing in schools, including training staff so that they know how to manage any problems which may arise during the school day.
“Peer mentoring would also be beneficial, as sometimes people feel more comfortable confiding in someone their own age. We also felt it would be useful to include emotional checklists in homework diaries, as well as places to go if people need support.
“In addition, more posters and leaflets would also have an impact. There are lots around about important subjects such as eating five a day, but not many about mental health, which makes it a hidden subject. We want people to realise that mental health is just as important as physical health.
“The Shadow Minister seemed to really like our ideas and we hope she will be able to take some of them forwards for the benefit of young people across the country.”Luciana Berger, Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health said: “It was a pleasure to meet with young people from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Youth Council during their visit to Parliament.
“There is a wealth of knowledge and experience among members of the council, so it is fantastic that they are offering so many ideas to make a difference to their local services. I was particularly interested to listen to the group’s vision for how young people’s mental health services could be transformed.
“I extend my thanks to everyone who took the time to come to Westminster to attend the meeting, and I wish the youth council every success in the future.”For a variety of help, information, blogs and resources to safeguard emotional wellbeing in all ages from pre-school children to young adults, visit www.whatsthedealwith.co.uk