On Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity to meet up and work with the West Midlands-based Young Person’s Steering Group, who work together to contribute young people’s perspectives to clinical research. This group is working to put together an event called Shout Out For Youth Mental Health, and I’ve been invited along to help out and present on behalf of a group member who will be taking an exam on that day. (Good luck Dena!) I got the chance to come along after a few members came to the Think4Brum meeting and told us about the event – and considering I would love to get into mental health research in the future, I jumped at it.
I was attending as a Think4Brum member, although I did also mention my writing and this blog. The morning started on a high as I was asked what year of school I was in, and getting very shocked reactions when I told them all I was in fact 26 years old. They all thought I looked much younger! Sod the grey hairs then. I was introduced to the rest of the group, a varied bunch of young people from different backgrounds with their own stories to tell. We were soon put to work, and I was sat in a room with Dena to work on the presentation that I would be presenting at the event on her behalf. Well… not much was done on the presentation, but it did give me the chance to chat with someone much younger than me and compare mental health notes – which was actually really fun! This chance to talk made me feel a lot more confident about presenting for her, she’s a very switched on young woman and I’m looking forward to working more with her in the future.
After lunch, I chatted with Claire about future opportunities for her team and Think4Brum to collaborate and work together to do some good for young people’s mental health in Birmingham and the West Midlands. It’s so good to know that there are so many people who want to improve the services that are needed so desperately. We also spoke about some other possible projects in the future, but you will have to wait and see about that!
We were lucky to have a talk by Dr Ashley Liew, a Consultant Paediatric Neuropsychiatrist from Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He was telling us all about how much funding that mental health research receives – the short answer is, really not enough! Especially when compared with the amount of money spent per year due to mental health with regards to work and school absences, treatments, hospital stays, etc. Considering that 1 in 4 adults will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime, more funding is definitely needed. After Dr Liew’s presentation, we then had a talk from Dr Claire (another one!) Harris, where we contributed ideas towards the care of young people during clinical trials. I presented the idea that perhaps during a consultation, the doctor in charge made more of an effort to address the child or young person as opposed to focusing on talking to the parents. I was surprised to see quite a few others agreeing with me on that point, so perhaps I wasn’t the only one to face such a thing personally.
The day was wrapped up with a rogue photoshoot and some final bits for the SOFYMH event next month. I left feeling really positive about everything we had talked about and worked on during the day, and despite my initial nerves about the task of presenting at the event I feel pretty capable of doing it now. It’s going to be a good day, I promise you.
A huge thank you to the whole group for having me along, I’m looking forward to being a part of what you all do. Also thanks to Claire for inviting me, I’m excited for what may be in store in the future!
Photos from the WM Young Person’s Steering Group Twitter page, found here.