Last week I attended the British Youth Council (BYC) convention in London as a member of the Kent Youth County Council. Conventions are held around 3 times a year by this charity which aims to involve young people to make a difference to decisions being made nationally.
The BYC has recently collaborated with NHS England by launching a Youth Forum which intends to give a voice to the next generation who will use the NHS and to improve the future of public health in England. Their main aims are:
- To improve communication between young people and clinicians.
- Raise awareness of mental health issues
- Destigmatise sexual health services in order to improve the sexual health of young people
Their current campaign involves tweeting images and tweets with the hashtag “DearNHS” so that the decision makers in the NHS are aware of how young people feel the service can be improved.
While at the convention, we were split into groups and had to devise our own tweet. It was beneficial to discuss the various ways in which the NHS could be improved, and the process enhanced my critical thinking and made me more mindful of new ideas that could be successful. For example, someone suggested having a “teen” ward, since in hospitals there is either a children’s or adult’s ward. Indeed, many of the facilities available in a children’s ward may not be relevant for teenagers, equally an adult’s ward may not be appropriate. In order to advance the quality of life at hospitals we should really consider creating a ward for teenagers to safeguard their mental and physical well-being.
Our tweet was “Can you reduce the stigma around mental health so young people can access services more comfortably and quickly?” This certainly is a key issue especially as 1 in 3 people suffer from a mental disorder and it links into one of the forum’s main aims. People with mental health problems already experience discrimination and prejudice every day; they should not then be put off using mental health services because of such stigma. People certainly need to know the real facts about mental health, with many myths and stereotypes dominating people’s attitudes and behaviour. Those with mental health disabilities do contribute to society; we need to give them the dignity and respect we give to all other members of society.
Hence, the convention was extremely awe-inspiring and has motivated me to take action on improvements within the NHS. I have joined our mental health interest group at the council which focuses on creating resources for youth organisations to provide information about mental health services.
If you want to have your say about how the NHS could be improved tweet with the hashtag “DearNHS,” or to find out more about campaigns that the British Youth Council is promoting go to http://www.byc.org.uk/about-us.aspx#.Vm25n0qLSUk.