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Young People’s Views of Mental Health Services

What works well:

“[Services] that are solely focused on young people’s mental health are good.”

“Trained staff on young people’s issues.”

“Accessing something like counselling has been beneficial to me when it is carried out by someone who knows young people’s issues.”

“The mental health nurse who works with me is a credit to her profession.”

“[The staff] helped me sort through some difficult problems and make sense of them.”

“When I was having a difficult time, I spoke to my GP who was very helpful.”

What could be done better:

“There’s nowhere in my community to talk about mental health issues except the doctors.”

“I was told by my GP that there wasn’t anything locally to support my specific problem.”

“Lots of helplines are only open from 9 ‘til 5, but mental health problems don’t always conveniently happen specifically within those times.”

“I waited one year on a waiting list for counselling sessions.”

“I’m on a waiting list CAMHS, and have been told I’m waiting for them to hire a new psychiatrist! They’ve told me I’ll be waiting around 8-10 months. I’m nearly 18, so I bet I just get passed on again.”

“Young people with mild depression shouldn’t have to wait until their problem is moderate or severe, before they’re seen.”

“We need more walk-in services, not [ones that need] referral.”

“Services need to be more accessible in rural areas; councils and health boards need to provide buses or travelling clinics to ensure young people in rural areas get some sort of help.”

“My conversation was not confidential, and I thought it was so that took me by surprise and made me less inclined to talk.”

“I hadn’t told my family I was going through treatment with CAMHS, and had has for information to be kept confidential. A letter with the CAMHS logo on the envelope was sent to my home.”

“My personal details were sent to my family home, when I expressly asked CAMHS not to.”

“I went to my GP to discuss my anxiety, which was a big step for me anyway as I find doctors give me severe anxiety levels anyway. Whilst talking to him, even though it was obvious that I was having trouble because of my anxiety, he started asking about my enjoyment of theatre and actually said, ‘Can you understand how hard it s for me to understand how you can do theatre and have anxiety?’. He belittled my anxiety down to nothing and decided my hobbies and enjoyments meant I couldn’t have it. I was in the room barely able to look at him or speak for my anxiety and he made me feel like going in to try and get some actual help was worthless.”

“When I sought help from my GP he basically said that… it was just a phase I was going through!”

“I went to my GP for depression, who prescribed self-help or medication; neither helped. There’s no dialogue; they don’t ask ‘What do you need [to help you recover]?’ They just give you what they think you should have.”

“It shouldn’t be a bad thing if you challenge your own treatment, but doctors see it that way when it is a young person challenging it.”

“As the people with mental health problems what they think will help rather than assuming what will.”

“There should be options and choice in treatment, decided by the person undergoing support.”

“Give young people more autonomy and more of a say in what happens in their care, and make sure they stay informed of any decisions.”

“Have a focus group for service users to feed back into the service. It should be anonymous and not patronising, but ensure where issues have a arisen they don’t happen again.”

“[Your] personality gets ignored – everyone is different and this isn’t taken into consideration.”

“The ‘One size fits all’ approach should be dismissed, and young people should be treated as individuals and not as caseloads.”

“When I went, the guy just sat behind a desk and asked me questions while he typed up my answers on his computer.”

“And the room they meet you in is really sterile and small, and there’s nothing to look at, it’s really unfriendly, and the walls are really blank. It’s intimidating.”

Accessing services for an eating disorder:

“My current GP is great, but when I was at university, I knew something was wrong because I was living on 1 apple and half a slice of toast a day. When I told the doctor I thought I had an eating disorder, they just laughed at me and told me not to be silly. I ended up losing 5 stone in 6 months, but I was too scared to go back to the doctor for help, and I’ve only recently started to be OK with food again. I had to go to a private counsellor because my GP said the waiting lists were too long and I wasn’t severely depressed enough to get therapy through the NHS. I was lucky I found somewhere that takes contributions, so I didn’t have to pay a lot, but I still had to wait 4 months for a regular slot, and I felt guilty every single week I was there because I thought there were other people whose problems were worse who needed the place more than I did. Counselling completely saved my life though, so I know it was worth it.”

LGBT young people’s experiences of accessing mental health services:

“Going to a counsellor is a really big thing for young people. Some LGBT young people have experienced the GP or doctor being preoccupied by their sexuality and not taking on board the actual problem.”

“It’s hard for LGBT young people, particularly trans young people. Medical professionals hear ‘trans’ or ‘LGBT’ and jump to conclusions that their mental health problems are because they are LGBT. The young people are turned away because of the assumptions about mental health problems being caused by them being LGBT.”

“Some young trans people find that hormones have negative side effects on their mental health. One friend recently started taking testosterone, but the nurse doesn’t really know what’s going on or how it’s affecting him. It’s like experiencing a second puberty, your body changes really quickly. There’s not much support for the mental side effects of transitioning, but there is support for the physical side effects. Even though to go through a medical transition, you need to be signed off by a psychiatrist. After that, there’s nothing.”

“Professionals should have mandatory training on issues affecting LGBT+, trans, disabled, and BME young people.”

Mental health services: Young people’s recommendations:

Increase awareness of available services:

“More about where to get help and all the time, not some of the time.”

“Raise awareness of services so young people know where they are – I wouldn’t know where to go.”

“Make young people more aware of where they can go to get help in a safe environment.”

“Make them more well-known and accessible for young people; destigmatise looking for help in more serious forms.”

Increase young people’s involvement in developing services:

“Involve young people in planning and designing them.”

“Young service users are at the heart of developing the services for them.”

“Have services led by young people.”

Develop services tailored to young adults and the specific issues this age group face:

“Young people are in their own right a specific age group; therefore I believe more tailored support would be beneficial. We need to extend youth services beyond 18 and have better access to a support network who understand young people.”

“We need a specific 12 to 16/18 to 25 mental health 24-hour helpline.”

“There should be more of a focus in teens/young adults from about 16 to 25 because in this age the services are either for younger kids or adults and you’re in an in-between stage and the jump from being a kid to an adult is massive and neither service really feels right.”

“You have to view young people aged 16 to 25 as an entire group like children and elderly. Make more aged-focussed and inclusive services available for us.”

“There are a huge amount of young people who suffer from a very specific kind of mental health problem relating to anxiety and often depression, particularly around employment and lacking direction, unemployed graduate etc. There could be a service targeted to this.”