Policies on mental health are failing young people

Image copyright Andrew Downer/Flickr Image caption A young person is screened at a London hospital for mental health problems

For years, I had my mental health checked regularly by healthcare professionals and looked after at least once a week by care teams.

One day, a hospital called me and said they’d need to bring a doctor into my house immediately.

Eventually, I managed to arrange a doctor’s appointment to discuss what was going on in my head, how to reduce anxiety, and to check I was OK in general.

I had been at the edge of a clinical depression and withdrawal from friends and family before this.

Finding a doctor was nothing like finding a simple way to open up about what was going on inside my head.

The real problem here is that there are no clear options and no way of explaining to doctors what my anxious thoughts may be.

Image copyright Kate.Central/Flickr Image caption Fearful about revealing their personal details, young people feel they have no choice but to keep quiet

So those four strong mental health symptoms are quite hard to find relief for in the NHS here. And yet there is no direct line to the mental health service, which means that those with mental health problems aren’t always able to get access to immediate help from someone who can and who can explain how they’re feeling.

At the University of Kent, I led a research project which found that the mental health care system is still skewed towards young adults and has no provision for those younger than 18.

Too often, young people think that health professionals regard mental health as just another medical issue, so the idea of being able to turn to an adult is not considered valuable.

Ultimately, this can leave young people frightened about their mental health, feeling they have no choice but to keep quiet about the symptoms and remain silent in fear of not being believed.

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