I am a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament, representing the Vale of Glamorgan and am a member of the Emotional and Mental Health Support Committee. We are all aware that mental health and emotional wellbeing is extremely important and deserves more attention. There should be more support available for those that struggle with mental health issues. We concentrated on this and a number of other aspects of mental health as we worked as a committee. Emotional and Mental Health is very important to us here at the Welsh Youth Parliament as it is something that is relevant to everyone and we want to see an improvement in the support that is available. Since 2019, when we began out work, we have searched for effective, different and new ways of treating mental health issues. We tried to better understand the situation for young people across Wales.
Mental Health is a part of many aspects of our lives and it is evident that everyone suffers in one way or another, from small problems to more severe problems. If we can all understand a little bit about the way we are feeling, this will be a positive and important step in the right direction.
The research process
We’ve worked in partnership with different organisations like Platfform in order to come to a worthy conclusion about how to solve the problems around mental health amongst young people in Wales. As well as this we have also taken into consideration the Senedd’s report ‘Mind over Matter’ as well as reports and research conducted by other organisations, in order to discover what we wanted to concentrate on when putting our report together.
‘Let’s talk about mental health’ is the name of our report, and exactly as the title suggests, we sought to concentrate on discussing problems in the hope that we would then be able to understand the situation and get rid of the stigma around mental health.
When thinking about putting our report together, we decided to create a survey for young people to feed into the report and also a survey for adult and workers in the field. Although we were looking specifically at the issues young people face, it is still vitally important to receive the input of adults and professionals. These are the people that look after young people and know how to deal with mental health issues and provide the correct support to those who need it. We’ve looked at the quality and quantity of the support being provided at the moment. The survey was therefore key for us to be able to receive the different opinions of stakeholders about bettering the support available.
We had some results through the surveys that surprised us but there were also some that unfortunately did not surprise us. We found that 61% of young people experience difficult emotions and/or mental health every day. This in itself was a huge indicator of the current situation with regards to mental health and it showed us how serious the situation is and how important it is to give the correct help.
As well as this, over half of the young people had not had any support at all. Personally, I was quite shocked by this result as it showed the scale of what needs to be faced. Nearly every one young person in Wales has experienced some sort of depression. There were a number of things that contributed to this including pressure of school work, pressures from home or from friends and family. Although we didn’t have much of an opportunity to look into this further, it is clear that young people from our generation are taking on a lot of pressures from a lot of different places and that we are in fact dealing with more than one problem here.
Challenges whilst consulting
The biggest challenge we faced when trying to consult with young people was the current coronavirus pandemic. This pandemic has bought to light a number of problems which have been useful to us in our research and as we try to give more information about support that will be useful to young people. The pandemic has also put a log of strain on everyone and has created a lot of uncertainties. Because of this situation, we weren’t able to do a number of things we had planned to do, like hold live events where young people and professionals could come together to discuss what changes they would like to see. This would have meant that we could have reached a wide group of young people across Wales but unfortunately we weren’t able to meet with people and therefore held virtual events instead.
When dealing with problems around mental health, children and young people must feel safe and feel free to share and discuss knowing that their opinions won’t be disregarded. The Government must understand the importance of caring for young people’s mental health and take notice of our report.
We have included a number of different suggestion which have come from what we collected whilst doing our consultation. We worked well together and worked in partnership with a number of different people and organisations in order to bring our ideas together to create recommendations. We are hopeful that our report will give useful information to the Government in order to move things along. Emotional and mental health is something that should be taken seriously. We need to ensure that there is robust support for every young person in Wales and we need to ensure that every young person is able to access the right support for them.