Mental health regarding young people is often an issue that goes overlooked when regarding young people. Although, in recent years it's started to gather more attention from it playing a prominent feature in last year's Elections and with politicians such as Nick Clegg highlighting its importance in his manifesto. However, it is an issue that still has a long way to be successfully addressed and tackled.
Being a young person struggling with a mental illness is definitely challenging, but seeking help can be equally as challenging. When I was 15, I struggled with clinical depression and anxiety disorder which presented many difficulties in my personal and academic life as a teenager. But seeking for help in the fear of stigmatisation and also where mental health isn't discussed enough in schools amongst young people was definitely a hurdle to overcome to be able to get help. In my personal experience, the only mental health education we received in school was a two PSHE lessons in how drugs affected the onset of mental illnesses which was disappointing because so much more needed to be done. For example, what do you do if you fear you of your friend has an eating disorder? What do you do if you fear your friend is or your are struggling with depression? What do you do if you see your friend has self harm cuts on their arm? Those are real challenges and dilemmas a lot of us faced growing up that we need particular guidance in. Especially as an adolescent, a majority of your life is spent at school and I think more needs to be done in ensuring that schools also take a bigger role in caring for students with mental health issues as much as NHS services.
Another main concern in mental health care regarding young people is how long it takes for someone to receive help. In my case, I had to wait a period of 6 weeks to be referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) after finally building up the courage to finally go and seek help which to anyone in the midst of struggling with mental illnesses at a particularly young and vulnerable age isn't ideal. Neither is it good enough. Spending my 16th birthday at home struggling with mental illnesses, on the phone to the GP to plead to get an earlier referral definitely wasn't a great highlight of my life and now looking back on it, it's rather sad and disappointing that had to happen.
Thankfully in my case I was able to receive help sooner, but unfortunately this is not the case for everyone - especially with the mental health cuts towards young people in health services have made others feel like the NHS has failed them.
I believe a lot more needs to happen to safeguard today's young people regarding their mental health from education to improvement in mental health services. And more particularly, realising how crucial it is that mental health is treated with the same respect as physical illnesses. If a child was experiencing breathing difficulties that was affecting their daily life and ability to function, they wouldn't have to wait 6 weeks to see a specialist. The brain is an organ just as much as your lungs are an organ, and deserve to be treated in the same manner. Just because you cannot see the pain doesn't mean you choose to acknowledge it any less. There should be more importance placed on helping young minds as it being the crucial age of emotional and mental development, tackling problems faced in childhood and adolescence is crucial in preventing issues such as addiction and further mental health complications that would affect their relationships, personal and professional lives as adults. It takes enough courage to go out and seek help, it shouldn't be even harder to receive help.