Following our last post on the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision green paper consultation, we asked young people in our peer support groups what they liked most about The Project and what should be considered when the government implements its proposals.
“The Project is a safe place for young people to talk about their mental health issues without judgement. It has helped me to become more confident and open about what I’m feeling.”
“I love coming as I can be myself and not have to worry about being judged.”
Many of the comments from our young people highlight the importance of a non-judgemental environment. Too often, even within mental health care services, people make assumptions about people based on their mental health issues. Young people and their mental illnesses are treated as problems to be “solved” before they can be discharged. At The Project, we believe young people are much, much more than their mental health problems. We provide holistic, ongoing support and the feedback we receive emphasises the value of this approach.
“The Project is the only support that has actually worked for me. The volunteers are all amazing and I thank them endlessly — and it is so wonderful being surrounded by people who understand me.”
“The Project is like a family. We all feel safe and happy!”
“It makes me realise I’m not alone!”
Inclusiveness and acceptance are also common themes in the feedback. The Project tries to help everyone who we feel might benefit from our peer support groups, without requiring a diagnosis of mental illness. We acknowledge that all mental health issues can be distressing and creating a hierarchy of mental health problems is detrimental to young people’s wellbeing. There is great value in simply knowing that other people are experiencing similar things, without comparing symptoms or their severity.
Unfortunately, many mental health services have stringent criteria for referrals, which means many young people experiencing distress aren’t considered “ill enough” to qualify for support. We are glad that the government’s proposals put more emphasis on early intervention, which can prevent mental health issues from escalating — as long as enough support is provided to meet demand, so nobody feels dismissed and unvalued.
“A small quiet space which is just friendly. No pressure. Help available — but no pressure to take it.”
“The Project is a safe place for people who are struggling to get help.”
We don’t put any pressure on young people to participate in activities or talk about their problems. We simply encourage them to do what they can, or what they feel is helpful. There is mutual respect between our young people, staff and volunteers, which differentiates The Project from more formal mental health services, where there is often a power imbalance between clients and service providers. When young people feel like someone else is “in charge”, they can feel disengaged, disregarded and/or disrespected.
The Project aims to empower young people to tackle their problems, which includes accessing further support where appropriate. We focus on developing life skills which increase young people’s confidence and ability to cope. Instead of being passive recipients of support, our young people are participants who have a say in how support is provided and how they engage with The Project.
“Helps me forget about my stress for a while.”
“It helps a lot.”
“I love it!”
The green paper consultation is running for another 2 weeks, so please share your views. Anyone with an interest in young people’s mental health can have a say, including young people, parents/carers, volunteers and professionals. You can leave answers blank and choose which questions are most relevant to you — see our previous blog for more information.
You can read the green paper at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transforming-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-provision-a-green-paper. There is a quick read version, as well as the full paper, so you can choose how much information you want to cover.
Remember, you have until noon on 2nd March 2018: https://engage.dh.gov.uk/youngmentalhealth