Every talk helps - Lewys' thoughts on mental health services in Wales

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Lewys R is a young person who uses one of Action for Children's emotional health services in Wales. He took part in the National Assembly for Wales review of CAMHS services and recently met the Welsh Government's Health and Social Services Minister. Here he shares his experiences:

In May last year I met 4 Assembly Members, Keith, Suzy, Lynne and David, to talk about mental health support for young people in Wales. They were doing an inquiry into CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) in Wales and wanted to know about our experiences.

We met at the Action for Children service I have used. They asked me and another young person what we thought about CAMHS. We had the chance to explain our past experiences. One of the points I made was that I didn’t feel like the staff at CAMHS had really listened to me, and I only went once. I have had support from Action for Children, and that’s been more useful for me. They have listened to what I’ve said and acted on it, so things are getting better now.

After we met the Assembly Members, they went away and made our points heard to other people by writing a report about it. It’s a really good thing that they drove this on. It’s really bugging when you do things and then it just stops and nothing changes.

In November, we found out the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM, would like to meet us and hear what we thought. We had biscuits and drinks to help us plan through what we wanted to say to the Minister. We made posters to help us remember what we wanted to say and which we could give Mark afterwards. Here is my poster:

My poster

In December, we went to the National Assembly for Wales to meet Mark. There were lots of other people there including other young people from around Wales.

We were sat in a big boardroom, it was a bit like The Apprentice and Alan Sugar’s boardroom. There were loads of people sat around a big table. Everyone got a chance to speak – I had to start first and I was nervous, but I overcame it. I wanted to speak about waiting lists.

I explained that there were big waiting lists for CAMHS, and that young people often had to wait a long time with no help or support. I said that I thought there should be more help before CAMHS so that people who feel alone can get help. One idea I had was that young people who need support could meet other young people, so they don’t feel so alone. I think this would give young people at least some support, as just waiting on a list is just time lost, or it could be a life lost for some young people who are really unwell. I said “every talk helps”, and I really meant it.

Since that day, I have had a letter of thanks from Keith Towler, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. He was supposed to come to the meeting but he had hurt his foot so couldn’t drive. He said that he had heard really good things about the meeting.

I have also had a letter from Mark Drakeford AM. In it he says that he thinks communication is crucial and he liked the line “every talk helps” and he wants to share this with other people. It’s good to know he liked my point.  I thought the other young people in the room made really good points as well.

The good things is that things are happening. Mark Drakeford AM told us he was looking at CAMHS in Wales and wanted to improve things. I want to make sure we keep on going until change does happen.


 

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