Youth council raises questions about mental health

Published: Friday 21st April 17

The Wandsworth Youth Council has held a Mental Health Question Time event, as part of its ongoing mental health campaign.

The Youth Council co-hosted the town hall event with Laura Tyrrell, participation officer for  the young people’s NHS mental health service CAMHS. Forty-nine young people were invited along to quiz senior mental health practitioners.

Jasmin chairs the discussion

The event was run in the style of the BBC Question Time programme, with audience members shooting questions at a panel made up of John Beckles, Children’s Commissioner at the Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Jeremy Walsh, Service Director at Wandsworth CAMHS, Alex Doig, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Richmond CAMHS and Graeme Markwell, Senior Public Health Lead at Wandsworth Council.

Other decision-makers were also there to answer questions, including the council’s spokesman for children and young people, Cllr Kathy Tracey.

The discussion was chaired by Jasmin Hughes, the Mental Health Campaign Lead for the Youth Council. The event was also attended by some of the Wandsworth Mental Health Champions, a three year programme started by the youth council, supported by CAMHS and funded by the CCG. This is training young people to educate their peers about mental health.

Key areas the young people asked about included funding and waiting times for mental health services, access to support in schools, what advice to give young people who are struggling with mental ill health, what support is available and how to access it, and support for transitioning from young people to adult services.

After the event, Jasmin said: “In Wandsworth, Health Commissioners spend ten times the amount of money on adult mental health services than they do on mental health services for young people, this is despite the fact that half of people with life-long mental health problems are symptomatic by the age of 15. We believe support needs to be available much earlier, as soon as problems start to emerge. .

“We were pleased to hear that Wandsworth has a new transition service being put in place with a dedicated Transition worker to help support young people moving from CAMHS to Adult Mental Health services. This came about following consultation with young people in the borough, including Wandsworth Youth Council.

“But we want to keep the pressure up, and our campaign will continue to lobby for greater support in schools and youth centres, not just hospitals.”

Cllr Tracey said: “Thanks to all the young people and everyone who took part. It was inspirational to hear the future leaders on our youth council get to grips with a difficult subject and hold decision makers to account.”

The Youth Council was set up by the council's Youth Services department and has established itself as a key forum for consulting and involving young people.

It meets regularly and develops campaigns, feeds into council decision-making processes, manages the Youth Opportunity Fund grant scheme, liaises regularly with the police and runs the annual Wandsworth Takeover Challenge. The Wandsworth Youth Council and Youth Participation service is managed and run by The Participation People on behalf of Wandsworth Council.

Find out more at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/youth

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