Politicians must include young people in decision making to try and solve the children’s mental health crisis, says Barnardo’s.
This is the message from young people supported by the charity who have had their say in a series of videos released during Children’s Mental Health Week (February 5 to 11).
The importance of early intervention is a key thread in the films, along with the call for governments to ensure teachers are adequately trained to recognise the signs a child may be having mental health issues.
The videos are timed with a survey for the UK’s largest children’s charity, which reveals half of all 12 to 16-year-olds in England feel sad or anxious at least once a week.
The YouGov polling also shows that 38% of children said they would talk to a teacher if they had mental health concerns, highlighting the importance of teachers having sufficient training and resources to support pupils.
Eighteen-year-old Catherine, from High Wycombe, said:
( https://youtu.be/Q7bY6HWd4uY )
“To improve children's mental health I would like the government to raise awareness of mental health education in schools so that young people can spot the warning signs.
"The government needs to include young people in decision making because we're the ones it will affect the most and I feel that mental health issues can be prevented with the right support.”
For Isaac, 22,from London, it’s important the government ensures teachers have mental health training so they can support their pupils.
In his video he said: “I feel the Government should be starting to teach the teachers about mental health so they are able to know the signs and to know what mental health is.
"There are a lot of teachers that don't know that it's a thing and they don't see the signs [of ill-health] from their students.
“Society needs to start having a more open mind about things and realise that mental health is a thing and everyone gets it and we should start talking about it and to start helping people."
And Taylor, from Stirling, Scotland, says more work needs to be done in the transition between children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and the adult system.
The 18-year-old said: “What I think will make a difference to children's mental health services is when we ask for help - listen to us, don't wait for us to reach crisis point.
"When we appear to be coping it doesn't mean that we are, don't dismiss us.
"When we turn18 - don't make us start from the beginning again.
“If our GP records can follow us, why can't our CAMHS records follow us?
"If you have to talk to us about our mental health needs then you must be prepared to respond at the right time and not add us to a waiting list."
Barnardo’s also wants mental health discussed in classrooms and school assemblies, so children know it is okay to talk about it and to learn techniques to help them tackle any issues they are having.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“We’re delighted young people supported by our services made these videos as it’s vital they have their say about mental health and that politicians take note.
“Only by listening to their experiences and learning how the current mental health system needs to change will government be able to create one that is fit for purpose and able to support the most vulnerable children and young people to achieve their potential.”
In 2016/2017 Barnardo’s provided specialised mental health and wellbeing support to 21,100 children, young people, parents and carers.
This included more than 14,500 children supported through our school-based programmes aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing. It also included 6,594 children, young people, parents and carers which the charity helped through its mental health services.