Authors: Ash and Sian
About: On 30 May, two of our Activists – Ash and Sian – were invited to Number 10 Downing Street to discuss what changes are needed in the mental health system with representatives from the Government, including the Prime Minister and the Mental Health Minister, Gillian Keegan. Here they tell us what happened, how it went and what the experience was like for them.
What was the meeting about?
Sian: We were there to talk about our experiences of getting help from mental health services. We explained the difficulties we had in getting the right support, how it helped us when we managed to get that support, and why it’s important that other young people are able to get help more easily and quickly.
Early intervention is important, because if I had got help when I first needed it, my mental health wouldn’t have got to crisis point and I wouldn’t have lost out on so many experiences.
Why is it so important that young people get mental health support as soon as they start struggling?
Ash: Speaking from my own experience, I didn’t get mental health support when I first needed it, which meant that my struggles got worse to the point that I lost my teenage years to my mental health problems. Early intervention is important, because if I had got help when I first needed it, my mental health wouldn’t have got to crisis point and I wouldn’t have lost out on so many experiences.
What happened in the meeting?
Ash: When we first entered the room, we all said hello and sat down and I could see that the name badge on the chair opposite me said “Prime Minister”.
Sian: We were told that he might come in and say hello then leave, but after he said hello he sat down and we were asked to share our stories. I was nervous but the people in the room let us know that we were there to be heard, which made me feel more comfortable and gave me confidence. Because we were opposite the Prime Minister, it felt like we were speaking directly to him and he was listening, which was great.
Because we were opposite the Prime Minister, it felt like we were speaking directly to him and he was listening, which was great.
Ash: The Prime Minister’s team reminded him that he needed to get to another appointment but he didn’t go. Instead, he listened to us speak some more and asked us questions about our experiences.
Sian: When we finished speaking, they discussed early support hubs and how they could help young people get the support they need. It was great to hear how passionate everybody was. It felt like we were really listened to.
What was it like meeting the Prime Minister and speaking to members of the Government?
Ash: It was cool – it’s not exactly something you do on a daily basis!
Sian: It was good. When I first joined YoungMinds as an Activist, I hated public speaking. But the team were supportive which made me feel more comfortable. I’m really pleased I did it.
Ash: Yeah, I don’t like public speaking either, but I feel like I've definitely got a lot more confident in sharing my ideas and speaking to new people since I’ve been involved with YoungMinds.
I can’t tell you how intimate and therefore how intimidating it can feel to be sitting directly opposite the Prime Minister, with an audience of officials, politicians and charity reps watching on. I’m so in awe of how these young people managed to stay so composed, tell their truths, answer his questions and do us so, so proud.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times:
Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.
Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.