Why Mental Health Matters To Young Women
Updated: Jun 17
Alex, aged 17, from Manchester is the Youth MP for Manchester Central. In her blog below she discusses themes of young people and mental health, CAMHS and the NHS, autism, pressures of online schooling and the Make Your Mark campaign, which is an opportunity for 11–18-year-olds across the UK to have their say.
"My name is Alex Kennedy and I am currently in the second year of my term as the elected Youth MP for Manchester Central. Last Summer I began a campaign for supporting young people's mental health, especially in schools as well as providing more support for services that deal with mental health like CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) There were so many reasons why I began my campaign - personal and professional. I myself had been through CAMHS at around 12 years old and my sister is still under CAMHS because she has autism. Her diagnosis had to be changed because of the Health Care postcode lottery that Manchester faces.
The research that went into the campaign made me realise how important it was that I continued my work. The fact the 75% of young people aren’t receiving the support that they need and 34% of young people that are referred to NHS Mental Health Services aren’t accepted for treatment was honestly shocking. As someone who deals with a mental health condition on a daily basis, I cannot imagine what it must be like for young people who are dealing with it on their own. With the added pressure of the pandemic for young people to carry on as normal whilst being isolated at home and keep up with online learning it was blindingly obvious that young people’s mental health was going to be seriously affected.
Then the time came round for me to submit a motion for the UK Youth Parliaments (UKYP) annual Make Your Mark ballot. I along with two other Youth MP’s worked together on a motion that had a 93% approval from the rest of the Youth Parliament. We had our motion put in the UKYP manifesto and it made it onto the ballot as well. After the Make Your Mark Vote we found out that our motion had come second across the UK and it is now being campaigned on by youth councils across the country- which is crazy to me! https://www.byc.org.uk/campaigns
I plan on continuing my work for mental health support long into the future and some of that work includes working with Polly. I am so excited to continue my work with them because I think it is amazing what they are doing. I hadn’t even realised there wasn’t a specific helpline for women until one of the lovely ladies at Polly reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in meeting up (virtually obviously) to talk about my work. I hope that by the end of my time as a Youth MP that my work will have made some difference for the way schools and other services handle mental health - but there will always be work to do. I want young people to feel like their mental health matters, I want to make sure they have the right resources and services to help them have positive mental health. I just want mental health to matter."