The following is a news story from Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded Young People’s Information Hub. To access the Hub please visit: http://www.hafal.org/hafal/yp_index.php
Recordings of young people speaking about their experiences of mental health services in Wales – and what they expect from the historic Mental Health (Wales) Measure – will be online soon.
The Measure comes into force in June. This new law will have many benefits for young mental health service users in Wales the main one being that all secondary mental health service users will, for the first time, have a legal right to a holistic care and treatment plan. This is something service users in Wales have campaigned about for a long time.
Earlier this week Hafal’s Young People’s Information Officer John Gilheaney spoke to Ian McGonagle, Principal Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, about the Measure and the training/information materials he was commissioned to put together by the Welsh Government. The aim of the materials to help people could get the most from the Measure.
Here’s what was said:
John: How did you prepare the Measure training materials in relation to the needs of young mental health service users in Wales?
Ian: We had a group of experts from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services who helped us write them. Also, as part of our approach, we recorded a number of young people from Wales talking about their experiences of mental health care as well as what they’re looking for from mental health services in Wales.
There was some terrific feedback from these audio narratives. During the interviews young people spoke about wanting to be helped by people who care about and trust them. A common theme was the importance of the relationship they have with the people who help them – young people with a mental illness want to work with people who really want to work with them, people who will not dismiss them simply as young people going through a particular stage of life.
What young people are asking for is humanity from services. They want to meet people who take time for them and who can see the world the way they see it, people who have empathy, mental health professionals who believe in them.
They’re very powerful messages.
John: At a recent conference on cyberbullying, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, said the best question he’s ever been asked by a journalist was from a foreign reporter who said: “Why do you, in the UK, hate your children and young people so much?” It made me think that if foreigners think we treat young people in general in the UK badly, God knows how they think we must treat young people with a serious mental illness!
Ian: Exactly. I’ve met nurses who have been on exchange visits to places in Europe who have told me that the way children in Europe are treated is very different to the way we treat them here. Young people’s position in society and the respect they have is different to the way things are in the UK. Nurses have also told me that the training people who work with young people have is way above what it is in the UK. In Europe there are highly expert practitioners working with young people. We don’t seem to insist n that level of training or expertise here.
Service users and staff from Hafal helped Ian and his team of 150 people work on the Measure training materials. The audio narratives Ian mentions are due to go online shortly. As soon as they’re available the Hub will let you know.