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STAMP’s mental health ‘Call to Action’ is based on extensive consultations with young people living in Sheffield around their experiences, and needs, in relation to mental health.
We need to be able to talk to our teachers without fear of being judged, that way they can check in with us. Give our teachers more training to make sure they are open and approachable when talking about mental health.
Students often feel like their schools can’t/aren’t fully supporting them with their mental health and this can act as a barrier to learning. One source of support we want is access to trained counsellors, both in schools, colleges and universities.
We want Peer Support to be encouraged throughout the curriculum and we want it to be as confidential as possible. Peer support is a really helpful source of support if you’re struggling.
We are fully aware of how important our education is. Exam pressure from teachers is shown to have the biggest negative impact on student’s mental health, more so than social pressures. We need the option to take time off school due to extreme stress levels and trust that we will take it seriously!
We want our PSHE classes to focus on more topics surrounding mental health, rather than just depression or anxiety, we need a better understanding of issues that we or our peers may face. This includes gearing the education towards all students, not just those identified as ‘struggling with their mental health’. Getting experts/professionals to come in and talk to us would help too.
Aside from mental health services, we need access to more comprehensive support for different areas of our lives like youth groups, sexual healthcare, SEND support..
Services need to be friendly and engaging, with sensitive staff to ensure our care is accessible. This can look like not dropping us after we miss an appointment!
We want to have the best chance in life for a happy future, to ensure this happens we need equal access to employment, education, participation and training.
As it stands, current mental health care in Sheffield is not continuous for a lot of us – we need more than just reactive, short term support.
Mainstream services can be inaccessible to young people in marginalised/at risk groups such as migrant communities, and not inclusive to specific groups such as LGBT+ young people, young men and young people who have experienced abuse/trauma. We need targeted, specific support that is person centred.
We need proactive, not reactive support throughout different age ranges. We don’t want to end up in a crisis if it can be avoided early on.
We are the experts in our own mental health. Listen to us, don’t assume we are ‘attention seeking’ or blowing it out of proportion. Don’t blame our problems on our hormones!
When we ask for help, don’t make us wait until we are at crisis point to intervene! Sometimes when you’re waiting too long, when help is finally provided it’s too late and higher intensity treatment is needed because our symptoms have worsened whilst we were waiting. What could also help is faster diagnoses- a lot of the time you can’t get help unless you have a diagnosis, but it takes ages to even get that!
Peer support and befriending from other young people who have experienced similar things can be really effective as they ‘get it’. Sometimes the support you’re offered isn’t appropriate or creates more anxiety- offer us a range.
Young people from minoritised ethnic groups often experience bias and discrimination when accessing support for their mental health, whether due to language barriers, cultural sensitivities and preferences that might not always be accounted for, or the unconscious bias and structural racism that can exist in mental health systems themselves. Mental health support should be a right, not a privilege, and we want services in Sheffield to commit to ensuring diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racist practice across mental health provision, and to review and adapt their services to meet the needs and wishes for all young people in Sheffield.
Don’t think every person diagnosed with a certain diagnosis (such as anorexia, BPD) is the same, we don’t want to be stereotyped!
Be trained in issues that require specific knowledge, for example mental health in relation to gender identity or young people with autism. Not everyone will need the same sort of help, young people with the same mental health issues may not have the same reasons why they are struggling, but even a basic understanding of these issues is important!
Young people struggling with their mental health can often feel ignored or not listened to. Please show us that you are there for us and offer support when we ask for it. We are the experts in ‘us’ so ask us for our opinions and involve us not just in our own care but in designing and improving services so that they truly meet the needs of young people.
A lot of young people who are in services or have been through them have ‘horror stories’ of professionals they’ve come into contact with who have unfortunately been insensitive, invalidating or just plain rude. We want the professionals we come into contact with to be appropriately trained and young person-friendly.
When a young person asks for help with their mental health they can sometimes be made to feel like a burden, we know staff are overworked and underfunded but we wouldn’t ask for help unless we really needed it. Stick to the promises you make and don’t be dismissive.
When in a crisis, we need access to friendly and welcoming spaces that make us feel safe; with staff who are well trained and compassionate. A&E is not a nice place to be in a crisis, give us an alternative!
The effects of a mental health crisis span far beyond the crisis period itself and this is often the only time we are offered support. Mental health crises are often a long time coming and can have after effects that last for a long time after we are discharged.
If there are physically not the resources or staff time to support us then tell us so we don’t think you just don’t care. We understand the pressures on staff and deserve transparency in our care.
Communicate with other services and share info on IT systems. Make sure staff members know what other services exist, use the Sheffield Mental Health Guide to check! When we are transitioning to adult services, keep communicating with each other to make it as smooth as possible. Make sure our notes are accurate and up to date so that we can avoid stressful misunderstandings.
Explaining our lives up until this point can often be triggering, painful, or a communication issue- use the Mental Health Passport that STAMP created and make sure staff members know about it.
We deserve to know what’s happening with our care and support, keep us updated on what’s being done to help us. Often young people are kept in the dark about their care and this needs to change.
We need to raise awareness through group sessions in our local areas, schools and colleges. We need to educate adults on young people’s mental health.
Community can help with resilience- we need more mental health awareness campaigns.
We need more access to green spaces, wellbeing cafes and other ‘safe’ spaces. These can be really beneficial to our mental health and we need them to be advertised so as many young people can access them as possible.
Young people from different areas of the city may have different needs, and these need to be catered for in mental health services.
Young people, our parents, teachers and professionals need to know what support is out there- the Sheffield Mental Health Guide is a comprehensive list of Sheffield services.
If we were receiving support before the pandemic this needs increasing not cancelling! If needed transfer it online! Respite may be required in some young people’s situations.
Young people have had a rough time of it during the pandemic. We need specific support for the issues that have arisen such as with exams after our results were different than they would’ve been, and with online learning. We need regular check ins to make sure we’re okay, a lot of us feel isolated and abandoned! Signpost us to services when we need them too.
Hold schools/colleges/universities accountable for how they handle the situation. Coronavirus has had a massive impact on our education and different unis/schools/colleges have handled it differently. We need to be advocated for and our education providers need to be accountable for how they handled it and kept us safe.
If it’s not safe to receive support face to face, transfer it online. Things that we would find helpful are: a peer support network, online chats, self help info, video chat, telephone calls.