Teenagers from Sandy have taken part in a survey to help understand mental health in young people.
The Sandy Youth Mental Wellbeing Project, with Youth Action and Groundwork, developed questions to put to volunteers aimed at learning more about mental health among young people.
A report to Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire states: “Though the number of respondents is not statistically significant the project provides a valuable insight into young people’s understanding and experiences of mental health.”
In the interviews, carried out at Sandy Youth Club, six youngsters said they had suffered from a recent mental health issue and nine people said they knew someone who had suffered. Four young people who said they had been bullied also went on to self harm.
Most of the youngsters said support from friends or family members had helped them deal with situations and many of them stressed it was good to talk about their issues.
“It was clear that many young people had not used or accessed mental health services but interestingly they were aware of support services such as CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and Chums, the mental health and emotional wellbeing service for children and young people in Bedfordshire,” says the report.
But several of the youngsters were critical of support staff and services, saying they found they were not believed or did not feel involved in decision making about their care and support.
“Mental health services, in particular, need to consider the child or young person with dignity, and respect them as experts in their own mental health,” says the report.
There were also concerns about the availability of treatment.
One youngster who had been identified as needing counselling services told the survey the location of services meant they could not access it.
“Without exception, all the young people spoken to felt they needed to know more about the care, diagnosis and recovery options available to them,” the report stated.
The youngsters taking part were asked how they rated mental health servces in Bedfordshire from one to 10, with one being poor. They gave an average of six. But the survey found those who had used the services themselves were less positive than those who had experience of the services through family and friends.
Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire (HWCB) will be developing Young HWCB webpages to provide a guide to mental health services and taking an active role in supporting the Bedfordshire Children and Young Person’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Transformation Plan.
It will also continue to gather feedback from youngsters about their mental health experiences to help improve services.