Young people should feel able to reach out if they or someone they know is struggling with their mental health, said Dr Rachel James, Clinical Services Director at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Rachel was speaking to the Camden Youth Council, at their annual SHOUT OUT event, where they explore key problems affecting young people in the borough.
Nearly 100 young people attended the event, where young people spoke about the challenges they face in accessing mental health support, including stigma, prejudice and stereotypes.
“There is a big stigma surrounding young people seeking help; their friends may view them as ‘weak’ and ‘attention seekers’,” reported a young person from the borough, while another said that some young people wanted support but didn’t know how to get it.
Research shows that two-thirds (67 percent) of young people would prefer to access mental health support without going to see their GP, but half said they didn’t know how to get this help.
Rachel explained to the group that the local North Central London (NCL) Integrated Care System is working together to improve services aligned with the THRIVE Framework for system change – a joined-up, person-centred and needs-led way of delivering mental health services for children, young people and their families. She explained that this way of working focuses on addressing children and families’ help or support needs rather than diagnosis or severity of a mental health problem.
How to get help
Rachel said it is important for young people to have access to reliable information about actions they can take themselves.
“There are things we all can do to look after our mental health and wellbeing, and each other. Please reach out if you or someone you know needs support. There are many ways to get help: you can speak with a family member, youth worker or teacher, or make contact with your GP.
If you don’t know where to go, ask a friend, family member, or a trusted adult. There is lots of support online, and we’ve built a website to help you navigate this called NCL Waiting Room, where you can browse this information and support in one place.”
Rachel described how important it is to speak up about these topics, saying, “Make time to talk to your friends and family about your mental health and wellbeing, and theirs. This might seem like a big conversation to have, but it can start with a simple ‘How are you?’ Change starts with us, and by making time to talk, we can tackle stigma and normalise conversations about mental health.”
Rachel also told the group if they wanted to learn more, they could also do the free 10-minute suicide awareness training, from Zero Suicide Alliance. “It only takes ten minutes. There’s something everybody can do to make a difference.”
The event was led by Samir Qurashi the Camden Youth MP and the Camden Youth Council, and was attended by Councillor Nasim Ali OBE, the Mayor of Camden, Martin Pratt, Executive Director for Camden Council, and other local authority, health and voluntary sector staff.
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