On Friday 15th July, the ‘National Health Service (Co-funding and CoPayment) Bill’ will be debated in parliament. Put forward by the Conservative MP Christopher Chope, the bill would see an increase to the number of NHS services that could be charged for, as well as the option for those who can afford it to pay to be able to access health treatment more quickly. It’s unlikely it will make it to the floor, never mind be passed, but instead of breathing a sigh of relief, I would argue that in many areas of our health service – especially mental health – this system is already effectively in place.
There are a host of hard truths which very few of us are normally willing to confront. Here’s one: ‘Early prevention’ - meaning the proactive mental health support that can reduce the likelihood of more severe and entrenched difficulties later on - is a distant dream for many young people.
While talking about our mental health challenges with friends and family can provide well-needed support, that can’t be the end of the conversation. MORR steering group member Jenny talks about the structural changes to the mental health system needed to backup anti-stigma campaigns.
Last month I went on some training covering human rights and mental health to support me in a new campaign project called MORR (Make Our Rights Reality). MORR is being run by Youth Access and delivered in partnership with other youth advice and counselling services across the UK.
If there is one piece of knowledge that has to be taken away, it is that autism and mental health conditions are by no means one and the same thing. For many autistic people who are living with the difficulties that come as part of mental illness, too often it is assumed that how autism may present itself is the cause behind mood or behavioural changes. From the errors which can result in overlooking these health concerns has directly made suicide a leading cause of autistic people dying, with autistic adults at least nine times more likely to die from this reason compared to the general population.
The Our Minds, Our Future campaign was set up this year by a group of young campaigners from across the UK. These young campaigners have come together because they all recognise a common issue that young people aged 16-25 are often forgotten and failed by the mental health system. The campaign aims to champion and elevate the voices of marginalized young people who are often excluded from the mainstream mental health discourse. This is a youth-led campaign run by Youth Access and is under the Make Our Rights Reality project which aims to teach young people about their rights to empower them to challenge injustice.