APPG on Children’s Health at the House of Lords

On the 22nd of October i had a very exclusive ticket to the House of Lords to speak and give evidence at an All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. This was apparently the second meeting of the group although the first for me and the question asked of us was “are children and young people getting the opportunities they want” in terms of good health and was looking at access to healthcare.

We heard from:

Baroness Massey who was kind enough to chair the event.

Dr. Chris Hanvey, the chief executive of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Caroline Noakes, MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image who told us about her work and area of interests which include self esteem, body image and mental health. It was great to hear from an MP so involved in raising awareness of these issues which affect so many young people.

Professor Helen Cross, the Prince of Wales chair of Childhood Epilepsy and three young people from the charity Young Epilepsy. I was so impressed by the young people who spoke about their experiences of other peoples ignorance and the discrimination and lack of understanding they had faced in receiving help for their conditions.

Young people and staff from West London Mental Health Trust’s Wells Unit who spoke openly and honestly about their experiences of both the justice and mental health systems and what they think would help young people stay mentally healthy, especially vulnerable young people who had become caught up in gangs.

We also heard from a representative at ChildLine who talked us through some really eye opening statistics. I was amazed to hear that since it was founded in 1986 ChildLine has counselled over 2.9 million children.

They spoke about the 69% increase in calls about self harm and 39% increase about suicide and told us that depression and mental health concerns feature in the top 5 concerns for 16 and 17 year olds calling them.

I was the last young person to speak at the APPG, this felt like a really big responsibility, especially after hearing from the other young people at the event but i wanted to make sure that i got across how young people who use mental health services often feel.

I also pointed out that, as i was the last person to speak, it showed that there continue to be wide ranging and very damaging problems within children and young people’s healthcare regardless of whether this is mental or physical health. I pointed out that this was an issue rampant across services and young people frequently felt dismissed, ignored and patronised by services and professionals.

I also spoke about the work i had done in the past and my experiences of services which is what led me to get involved in YoungMinds in the first place. I spoke about the work i do now with YoungMinds and NHS London and the app that we are developing specifically for young people in London and the State of Mind manifesto.

The group wrapped up the meeting with a quick Q&A session, we would have loved to have speak longer but we had to finish at 6:30. I must admit to being exhausted by the end of the day but it was definitely an incredibly worthwhile experience and i am glad that i was able to speak at such a high level about mental health and young people. I just hope that what i said can in some way help to make a difference, if only in opening people’s eyes to some of the experiences of young people.

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HIV Sport at the House of Lords

On Monday 8th of October i had my first of three visits this month to the House of Lords. I must admit that this visit was not related to mental health but a highly interesting and enjoyable experience nonetheless.  In fact in many ways more so because i learnt so much about something i admit to not knowing much about.

I was visiting with Devika, winner of the Sex Factor 2012 competition and MBARC, who i am working with for the sexual health section of our wellbeing app. They were kind enough to invite me for the launch of HIV Sport’s launch of their film series “Fact or Fiction”.

Badges of Hope

HIV Sport is a fantastic charity that, as the name suggests, uses sport to raise awareness of HIV. It works on an international level and has touched the lives of so many people across the world.

We heard from some truly incredible people and saw the award for the winner of the Fact or Fiction competition given to Brian Mjiyakho and Danny Lurie from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Brian Mjiyakho

You can watch some of the films here.

After this we were given a guided tour of the House of Lords and even got to watch the Lords sitting from the member’s gallery!

Afterwards we convened for a meeting and Devika and I were able to share the work that we are doing developing our wellbeing app for young people in London. We talked about our aims for the project and what had brought us together for this project. It was wonderful to not only be able to share ideas with delegates from across the world but also hear so much praise and interest in our work.

Overall the day was a fascinating and truly humbling experience, seeing people from across the world come together to do such incredible work.

October has been a busy month

Well October is almost drawing to an end now and it has been quite a month! On top of my usual work for YoungMinds and NHS London i have also been lucky enough to visit the House of Lords on not one, nor two but three occasions this month to talk about mental health and the app i am developing.

I will be blogging about all three of these visits in the coming days, watch this space!

A few weeks ago i blogged about how you could  Celebrate World Mental Health Day in London. I was lucky enough to be able to do just that and found myself on the 10th of October at Camden’s Real Talk event titled “Mad, Bad or Sad”.

The event brought together more than 60 young people from Camden and a range of organisations for a dynamic, interactive debate on mental health at Camden Council. Young people were asked a range of questions such as “when you hear “mental health” what do you think?” and “would you tell your friends if you had a mental health problem in the past” and responded by voting with keypads; a really great way to use technology to involve people in open, honest debate.

The event was hosted by Brooke Kinsella (@brookekinsella), star of Eastenders and anti-knife crime campaigner and Luc Skyz (@LucSkyz), London rapper but i must say the real stars of the show were the young people.

I attended the event as a member of YoungMinds staff and had my own stall full of information, freebies and sweets (which proved to be very popular!). I spoke to so many young people and told them what we get up to at the nations leading children and young people’s mental health charity and a lot of people expressed an interest in getting involved.

I also got to tell the young people i spoke to about the app i am currently developing with NHS London and there was a lot of interest, young people told me they wouldn’t necessarily know where to go if they needed help or were worried about a friend; something i hear time and time again. It was good to hear that there is a genuine need and want for the app we are working on and i hope that when it is released it helps.

My favourite part of Real Talk was sitting in on the debate “Mad, Bad or Sad” and it was really interesting to hear directly from young people what they think mental health is and how they perceive mental illness and those that suffer from it.

There were some very revealing comments and some great questions; hopefully we busted some stigmas and it was great just to be able to talk openly about mental health with people who might not necessarily think twice about it otherwise.

Overall it was a fantastic event and i am so glad i was able to be a part of it. I’d like to thank the organisers and all the young people that attended.

Celebrate World Mental Health Day in London

Celebrate World Mental Health Day in London

It’s  World Mental Health Day tomorrow. The event which is marking it’s 20th anniversary will this year  focus on Depression, something that affects a huge number of us here in the UK and worldwide and from what i can see is only getting worse.

As i’m currently working for YoungMinds and NHS London i thought i would do a little bit of my own research to see what London is doing to celebrate the day and how you can get involved.

Of course i may well have missed bits here and there so if anyone knows about something i’ve missed drop me a line in the form of a comment and i’ll add it to the list.

 

Camden

There will be a “Real Talk” event for 14-19 year olds running from 5:30-8:30pm at Camden Town Hall Council Chamber and the topic for debate is “Mental Health in Camden”. I will have a stall at the event and lots of information about YoungMinds and the VIK Project. There will also be some fantastic prizes, music, hot food and a goody bag for every participant. You do need a ticket for this event.

For tickets to Real Talk email Lizzie.Streeter@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 2943.   

North East London Foundation Trust

To mark World Mental Health Day, North East London NHS Foundation Trust is hosting a ‘Depression and Dementia’ awareness event on Wednesday 10 October at Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

The event will highlight how factors such as exercise and diet can affect mental health and how people can make positive changes to their everyday lives to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

http://www.nelft.nhs.uk/news_publications/110

Bipolar UK

Bipolar UK’s London office will be hosting a lunchtime welcome between 12 noon and 2pm. This is your opportunity to celebrate this special day, meet the team and learn more about bipolar and what the charity do do. 

http://www.bipolaruk.org.uk/world-mental-health-day.html

Haringey Council

I’m very impressed by Haringey Council who are actually running a whole week’s worth of events in order to celebrate World Mental Health Day and help local people experiencing mental health problems. The list of activities is detailed on their website.

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/social_care_and_health/mental-health/worldmentalhealthday.htm

London School of Economics

On October 8th in collaboration with the Central & North London NHS Trust and LSE Student union are holding an event on the Houghton street campus, in the Student union building to raise awareness of mental illness amongst students. There will be information stalls and a film show “Open Secrets” following by a group discussion.

http://lsesu.tumblr.com/post/32927625078/lsesu-is-marking-world-mental-health-day-8th-oct

JAMI (Jewish Association for Mental Illness)

JAMI will be manning stalls in the community, raining awareness about mental health for World Menatl Health day.

Barnet

All day event at Brent Cross Shopping Centre (Centre Court) Stalls, information, volunteers/advisers, short talks on mental illness.

On the 11th of October Barnet’s Mayor Brian Schama will be attending an event titled “No Health Without Mental Health”.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/9959339.Mental_health_awareness_day_supported_by_Barnet_Mayor/

Dagenham

Dagenham are holding an event for World Mental Health Day, called Opportunities, which will highlight the Employment, Education and Training opportunities in the local communities for people with mental health issues, as well as raising awareness and addressing stigma.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/your-organisation/events/wmhd-opportunities

Hammersmith Lyric Theatre

An event will be held in the Lyric Square and Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith on Wednesday 10th October 12-4pm. The purpose of the event is to combat the stigma associated with mental health, promote awareness of mental health and provide information on services available. The event will have something for everyone: a play produced by the Creative Minds Youth Project, speakers, film screenings, advice & information, and stalls and workshops on mental health.

Time for Tea

Gillet Square, 14th October.

Time for tea is a one day festival spread over three locations in Dalston for World Mental Health Day in association with: Hackney Community Services East London NHS Foundation Trust Gillett Squared Studio Upstairs and Time to Change.

http://www.studioupstairs.org.uk/featured-news/time-for-tea-festival/

 Time to Change

Time to Change are running a roadshow event at a local community centre – MyPlace Community Centre in Harold Hill Romford which is linking in with an art exhibition that is delivered by people with Mental Health conditions to raise awareness of mental health to local people in Havering.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/your-organisation/events/mental-health-awareness-day-10th-october-2012

Rethink Your Mind

Rethink Your Mind had a fantastic London launch event that  i was lucky enough to attend last month. They asked people to send it positive, creative work with the sentence ‘With good mental health I have…’ to start them off.

 They will be revealing the winner of their competition and showcasing some of the creative work that has been sent to them.

http://www.rethinkyourmind.co.uk/

Mental Health Foundation

Tea and Talk events: All you have to do is get together a group of friends, family or colleagues, put the kettle on and invite them to make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation, it’s as simple as that!

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved/as-a-fundraiser/teaandtalk/

MindApples

The wonderful Mind Apples will have one of their trees down at Southwark Cathedral on World Mental Health Day. Check it out and add your 5 a day!