Aimee, 18, a Healthwatch Essex Young Mental Health Ambassador, is a guest blogger this month, sharing her mental health story and highlighting her experiences of accessing local services.
During my late childhood I started to struggle with my mental health really badly. My mum contacted as many local services as she could and I got some help after a few months. The first counselling I had lasted about a year, but I felt that the person I saw didn’t help me much. Fast forward a few months and I was referred to a new counsellor who really helped and I was with her for about a year. Now knowing about the demand for support from mental health services, I feel quite privileged that I got help at such a young age.
I had counselling with multiple counsellors over a few years, until I was in secondary school. During this time, I would go to the doctors to try and self-refer to services, but due to living on the border of Cambridgeshire and Essex, it was quite hard to find anywhere. I felt that it would be easier to go to Cambridge as it was closer, but since I lived in Essex, Cambridge mental health services said they couldn’t help; even the hospital said there wasn’t anything they could do when I was once admitted there. I was told I would have to go to Harlow for counselling, which was very difficult to fit in around school. I went every fortnight which often led to me missing days at school.
I missed school from the end of Year 9 to the beginning of Year 11 as my mental health was so bad, I couldn’t even leave my bedroom. Eventually, I got prescribed medication, alongside counselling, which would help me so much in the future.
A few months ago, the country went into lockdown due to Coronavirus and it had a big impact on my mental health. I’ve been struggling a lot; however I’ve had regular calls with my GP and college counsellor to check up on me. Starting a job, getting out the house, and being able to socialise with other people has definitely helped with my mental health and it’ll be easier to integrate back into normal life after lockdown. I have taken up hobbies such as doing makeup, hair styling, video games and music; these really help taking my mind off everything that is currently going on.
Becoming a Young Mental Health Ambassador with Healthwatch Essex is so important to me because it’s something I feel so strongly about and I want to make it easier for young people to access mental health services. I’ve always wanted to share my stories to help young people like me and to help them through whatever they’re going through because I don’t want anyone to think they’re alone. Personally, this opportunity is also a chance for me to make new friends with people from the same background and similar experiences, living across Essex who I may never have met outside of this volunteering role.
Would you like to join Aimee and get involved in this exciting volunteering opportunity? For more information on how to become a Young Mental Health Ambassador, click here or email our Volunteer & Engagement Officer, Cheryl, at Cheryl.Huggins@healthwatchessex.org.uk.
Whilst the country continues to tackle the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis, we have drawn together a series of resources to help you keep up to date, know what support is available and understand how you can help. Click here to view.
Our Information & Signposting Team remains here to support you with all health and social care enquiries in Essex. Click here for contact details.