Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. For more information, read our Privacy Policy.
Close
News items
Help in a crisis
Back to news search

Search
Tweet   Facebook   LinkeIn   Email
Young bloggers share mental health experiences at Westminster
02/03/2015

Two young people who have written hard-hitting blogs charting their experiences of coping with mental health issues have shared their stories at the highest level after visiting Westminster to help shape future services.

Katie Davis and Susanna Frost, who have both blogged for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, met Secretary of State Nicky Morgan and Minister Sam Gyimah at the Department of Education last week.

Together with other bloggers from across the UK, they discussed their own experiences of mental ill health, as well as exploring ways to de-stigmatise mental health in schools while finding ways to better support children and young people.

They received the invitation after writing blogs charting their own experiences for the Trust's dedicated website for children and young people, called 'What's the Deal With'. 

Katie, who lives in Norwich, has received ongoing support from the Trust after she was diagnosed with depression at the age of 15. Now 21, she has overcome the condition with the help of therapy and medication, and is making the most of her life by studying psychology, sociology and cultural studies while volunteering at a youth centre.  

"I was in shock after I found out we'd been invited to Westminster, but really excited at the same time," said Katie, who is also a member of the Trust's Youth Council. "It was a great opportunity to talk about reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues while raising awareness of the help that is available and the services which are out there.

"Young people don't get taught anything about mental health in school, and most parents don't have much knowledge either. It's quite an awkward topic – even though mental ill health affects one in four people, we are still afraid to talk about it.

"We need more education – young people with mental health problems think they are not normal, but they don't realise just how common it is. We need to reduce that stigma so young people no longer feel they have to suffer in silence."

Susanna, 18, has worked with her family to overcome strong anxiety and is now hoping to pursue a career as a mental health nurse. She wrote her blog to encourage other young people experiencing problems to ask for help.

"One step to overcoming a mental health issue in my experience is to talk about it and get the help you need," said Susanna, who lives in Great Yarmouth. "I know in some cases this may not be easy, but just by telling a teacher, friend or family member, you realise you are not on your own and something will be done.

"Try to keep a positive attitude to everything even when times get bad because once you hit the bottom, the only way is up."

Lance Karasava, Assistant Psychologist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, has spearheaded the blogging project and accompanied Katie and Susanna to Westminster.

He said: "We started the initiative at the beginning of October, and have been adding new blogs every week to highlight different aspects of mental health as well as people's own experiences. 

"The blogs are written by a mix of people, including professionals and service users, and aim to help break down some of the stigmas around mental health and raise awareness of the importance of talking and the services which are available.

"We were delighted that Katie and Susanna's blogs were picked up by the Department of Education and they were invited to London as a result. The round table event gave them a fantastic opportunity to discuss their own experiences at the highest level and help find ways to further improve the support which is available to children and young people across the country."

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: "It was a pleasure to meet with Katie and Susanna and with so many inspiring young people who are passionate about mental health.

"As part of our plan for education, we are placing a fresh focus on improving young people's mental health and I was delighted to hear some of the ideas these young people had. They have given us lots of valuable suggestions which we are looking forward to exploring further."

To read the blogs, or to access information and resources to help safeguard emotional wellbeing in all ages from pre-school children to young adults, visit:
www.whatsthedealwith.co.uk