The concept of youth mental health issues seems to be a complex thing within the UK and generally throughout the world. I feel that being a youth and experiencing mental health issues or symptoms of those has become an integral part of being young especially in impoverished areas. Of course it is true that many youths will experience symptoms of mental health problems but when mental illnesses really do occur in young people they may be degraded to just puberty and hormones. This especially occurs in teenage girls; a situation I know all too well. The stigma around mental health also stops people recognising issues in young people as they simply do not want to admit it. Mental health must be more widely discussed and must be viewed as a health problem rather than an emotional one.
My mental health issues began just as I started first year in secondary school, an event I was very anxious about already. Though throughout my childhood these same issues were present it was at this time when they became extremely prominent and my mum sought help. I went to my GP and she referred me to CAMHS. I was one of the lucky ones and only had to wait a month or two before getting an initial appointment- I have known others in my age group waiting several months for one. This shows how high the demand for more accessible mental health services for young people and children. I have attended CAMHS for nearly 6 years with a year and half break from regular meetings in between that time and am extremely thankful for it as I honestly think that if it wasn’t for CAMHS or more specifically the mental health nurse I see regularly there, that I would not be here writing this post today.
“I feel that being a youth and experiencing mental health issues or symptoms of those has become an integral part of being young especially in impoverished areas.”
In my opinion the differences between CAMHS and NHS adult mental health services are not that vast. Both are underfunded due to misunderstanding of importance and obviously our typical Tory government, because of this both have long appointment waiting lists which can be deadly. Lack of beds in both adult and youth mental health wards is also very common especially in Scotland, it’s not uncommon to hear of families having to travel miles to visit people in said wards as the closest one to them is completely full
Another massive issue affecting the mental health of youths is the education system. The pressure being put on children as young as 11 to excel and to have plans for the future is of a colossal size, never mind those my age (17) and younger who are sitting exams. My mental health issues caused me to finally leave school last Christmas and start college instead as my attendance dropped very low and could not handle the pressure and general structure of school life and I am so glad I made that decision. Education is so important therefore it is a must that more measures are in place to help those under pressure within the education network. The focus must shift from achieving good grades being of the up-most importance, to achieving a healthy mind and goal set.
So what should the government do? More funding in all aspects of the mental health system, mental health initiatives or campaigns to help change problematic views towards mental health and greater education in youth mental health for children and young people. The mind is a beautiful, complicated, precious and important thing and its wellbeing must be of a higher importance to the government and public.
Sabrina Sigler is a 17 year old RISE activist from Inverclyde.