Wigan teenagers have say on mental health issues

Thousands of young people have been helping to influence the future of Wigan’s mental health services.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 8:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 9:58 pm
Members of Wigan Council, NHS, Wigan Youth Zone and members of the public gathered together to watch a yellow flag being raised in Believe Square, Wigan, to launch the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, backed by the Wigan Observer, and also mark Suicide Prevention Day

Improving mental health support was voted the top issue young people in the borough were most concerned about in a national ballot organised by the UK Youth Parliament and organised locally by Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet last year.

Following the ballot, in which just under 17,000 local young people voted, teenagers from the youth cabinet launched a campaign to raise awareness of the need to improve mental health support for young people.

William Powell, 14, from Orrell, is a member of Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet and UK Youth Parliament Member for Wigan and Leigh.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As part of his role, William spoke in the House of Commons at the UK Youth Parliament’s annual sitting about the importance of engaging young people in the development of mental health services.

He said: “So many young people responded to the survey, which told us that the issue young people most wanted to see improved locally was mental health support. We knew we wanted to do something about it.

“One in four people are affected by mental illness so every single household will have some sort of connection to it.

“Despite a wider public acceptance now, I know that lots of young people still feel isolated and unable to speak about it. It’s our job to be the voice for those young people.”

Wigan’s ‘Future in Mind’ group, set up to influence decisions on the future of young people’s mental health support and made up of professionals from NHS, Wigan Borough CCG, other local health organisations, Wigan Council and schools, were keen to engage young people in their plans.

GP Dr Jayne Davies, who chairs the group, said: “It’s really important to involve young people in future plans as we want to make sure that any support we invest in will really make a difference to them.”

More than 2,000 11-17 year olds responded to questions including what they currently do to stay well and happy, what causes them to feel stressed and worried, when and where they would prefer future services to be delivered and what one thing should be done to support young people’s mental health in Wigan.

They were also asked to discuss their views on any services they had already accessed and suggest advice for parents, carers and professionals on the best ways to talk to young people about their mental health.

Dr Davies said: “We are committed to listening to their views and making sure that the results inform our plans.

“We hope that by continuing to work with young people we’ll be able to develop the right sort of support to help improve mental health in the future.”

The next event we be at LSV on October 23.