As the issue of increasing numbers of young people being referred to mental health services hits the headlines, Healthwatch Essex has begun recruiting young mental health ambassadors to ensure that their voice is represented in the redesign of services.
Just this month, Channel Four Dispatches reported that Britain was in the ‘grip of a youth depression crisis’ with 68% of the 16 to 30-year-olds they spoke to saying that they have had or currently have a mental health condition. Their research showed that, nationally, there were 700,000 referrals of youngsters under 19 to mental health services last year, a 45% increase over the last two years. The programme said that two in every three were not receiving the treatment they need.
Last month a Healthwatch Essex report, SWEET!3, identified that young people in a secure mental health unit in Essex often felt powerless and ignored. Our researcher, who was working within the secure unit, also discovered that young people frequently reached crisis whilst waiting for treatment and that inconsistent care and high staff turnover often delayed recovery.
Against this backdrop, and in partnership with the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service (EWMHS), Healthwatch Essex is offering a unique opportunity to young people in Essex with experience of mental health to join us in influencing how services are provided in the county.
Cheryl Huggins, who is leading the scheme for Healthwatch Essex, said: “Over the course of the next year, we want to recruit somewhere in the region of twenty Young Mental Health Ambassadors to represent voices from across the county.
“It is, of course, vital that work continues to understand and tackle the root cause of increasing mental health conditions in young people, but alongside that, it’s crucial that the mental health services currently available to young people are meeting their needs.
“We are very fortunate in this county to be working with forward-thinking colleagues at the EWMHS, who want to have young people with mental health conditions actively involved in shaping services. This is a unique opportunity to make a difference and we hope young people will step up and make sure their voices are heard.”
To be a Young Mental Health Ambassador you must be under 25 and have accessed mental health services in Essex. You would need to be willing to give a small amount of your time regularly to share your experiences and, in doing so, you could make a difference to how services are provided, both for your own generation and those that follow.
For more information click here.