“We won’t make it good overnight, we will make it better every day”

A seminar considering children’s and young people’s experience of serious mental illness up to the age of 25 has been held at the Media Resource Centre, Llandrindod Wells.

The aim of the seminar, which was hosted by the Welsh mental health charity Hafal, was to take a fresh approach to a complex subject by listening to first-hand accounts from individuals who have experienced serious mental illness in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, and by hearing from those involved in planning and delivering their care and support.

Issues raised on the day included: how to involve young people in the design of services; how to ensure that the stories of young people are heard; how to help vulnerable young people at university; how to make services work more effectively together and how to best promote counselling in schools.

Summing up the event Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones said: “Hafal’s view is that in the short to medium term we have to be realistic; there won’t be significant new money available in the next 3-5 years so we have to be pragmatic and clear on the expectations we have on campaigning for better services on the one hand, and the kind of services that could be developed.

“The priority must remain that swift and effective services are offered to those people who have reached the point where they experience serious mental illness. In the short-term Hafal’s view is that there isn’t room in the present state of resources for large scale radical reform of services. However we will certainly be looking for very high standards to be set for mainstream services. In the longer term we’ve learnt from today that there might be merit in looking at the way services are structured and positioned.”

Hafal will produce an action plan report based on the information gathered at yesterday’s event. Similar reports produced on housing and criminal justice by Hafal have had a significant impact on influencing policy and the commissioning of services. The information received yesterday will also strongly influence Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded young people’s information hub which is currently being developed.

Concluding the event Hafal Chair Elin Jones thanked everyone for their “invaluable contributions” and said: “I hope that you will take from today a sense of working holistically, of learning from each other and of learning to trust working together as a whole principle. This is how we do things at Hafal: we get together, share ideas and move on together. We won’t make it good overnight, we will make it better every day.”

For more information on Hafal please visit: www.hafal.org