Manchester Youth Council call for more mental health support for suffering kids

Manchester Youth Council is calling for more, and easily accessible, help and support for the city’s young people suffering from mental health problems.

In a bid to get children and teens talking about mental health and ending the ‘devastating effects’ of untreated mental illness, the youth council have issued a report to the Manchester Young People and Children’s Scrutiny Committee today.

The report outlines a series of proposals to raise young people’s awareness of early support for mental health and wellbeing, with the youth council have identified as a ‘top priority’.

A member of the council Michelle Saidi said: “The mental health and wellbeing of young people is a top priority for us.

“The first thing we want to do is target the stigma attached to mental health, so that young people can feel more comfortable talking about it, that mental health is something they can openly talk about.

The youth council’s research found out that young people aren’t aware of how to access vital, basic support –known as tier one support –for their psychological wellbeing when issues first arise.

Tier one support is provided by GPs, health visitors, school nurses, teachers, youth workers, social workers, youth justice workers and voluntary agencies.

They can offer general advice and treatment for less severe problems and can also refer young people for additional support where this is needed.

This early help and support is vital in helping prevent problems escalating and becoming more severe.

Ms Saidi added: “We also want young people to understand the devastating effects mental health issues can have if untreated – and how they can improve their own mental health and get early support when they need it.”

Youth councillors have come up with three proposals they think will have a significant impact on improving support for young people with mental health problems.

The first of these is to ensure that every high school, college and youth setting has a named individual to act as a single point of contact for support with mental health and emotional wellbeing for all students – and that all students know who this person is.

Their second proposal is for the production and distribution of additional publicity material for young people, focussed specifically on how they can access support for any concerns they have around their own or their friends’ mental health and emotional wellbeing.

A need was also identified for this material to be available as printed material and also digitally, through apps and social media.

Their final proposal is to involve young people directly in improving access to support, through peer mentoring schemes in schools and colleges and by asking young people to provide feedback on the support provided for mental health and wellbeing in each school, college or youth setting – identifying ways in which it could be improved.

Councillor Rosa Battle, lead member for young people’s issues at Manchester City Council, said: “There’s no-one better informed than young people themselves to tell us about young people’s experiences of accessing support for their mental health needs.

“Good or bad, their opinions really count and we need to listen and learn from them about what they think works and what improvements they think should be made, to ensure access to the right services at the right time.

“They’ve made some important suggestions about how this can be done and we’re committed to looking in more detail at these, in a bid to improve the much needed vital early help and support for young people affected by mental health issues.”

Image courtesy of Anel Rosas, with thanks.

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