Content from Healthwatch Essex
Rachel, a Healthwatch Essex Young Mental Health Ambassador, is our guest blogger this month and is sharing why she has joined us to help improve the local mental health services in Essex below in the hope that others will learn something from her story.
Latest statistics from the Children’s Society show that 1 in 10 school children in the UK have a diagnosable mental health condition. What is concerning however is that 75% of young people who are experiencing mental health problems from depression, addiction or bi-polar are not receiving adequate treatment. Young people’s mental health is on the rise and affecting their everyday life – with the services at their maximum capacity. There are so many more charities involved in mental health to help young people to try and relieve services like CAMHS or CMHT.
I have always struggled with my mental health in one way or another, even if I never noticed myself until I got older and reflected back on my life, however nonetheless it was still there. By age 7, I had a school councillor (they could see my ill mental health was forming, however I could not), then another one, then another one, until I became too unstable to receive counselling anymore. Most conditions are treated by therapy, however at that point what shocked me most was that I was being told the only thing that could get me stable was therapy… however I was too unstable to receive it?
By age 14, I realised something was wrong with the way my brain was working but could not figure out what, yet I was too scared to say anything. It wasn’t until I was around 17/18 that I received my first (and multiple) diagnoses of what was going on. In future blogs, I will talk more about my conditions and what has helped me – to give other young people hope that they are not alone. Even if the services are limited due to funds, there are charities and people who have experienced similar things that can help give you advice and guidance to get you through the dark days, where you can’t see the sun rising again. But let me tell you, the sun does rise again, the nights only last so long.
My passion to become a Young Mental Health Ambassador is to help young people when they first experience something which isn’t as it should be. Those crucial moments when they need help, advice and guidance on tackling their mental health – when the services put them on a waiting list and by then young people have deteriorated, like myself. I want to speak up on behalf of those who are struggling, yet remain quiet, to make changes to services, and where I have been through nearly every service imaginable within mental health, I want people to hear my story and resonate with it. I want them to know they aren’t alone and that we all, including me, can and will get to recovery. Recovery has no time scale, so just because someone is at point 2 in their recovery and you are only just beginning, it doesn’t mean you are behind – we are all where we need to be on this journey.
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.