Topics mentioned: #EndTheWait campaign
Authors: Elsa, 20, and Tilly, 23
About: On 2 November, YoungMinds Activists - Elsa, Jaiden and Tilly - delivered a welcome card to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The card was signed by thousands of campaigners, outlining our demands to end the mental health crisis for young people, and showing Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, just how important it is to #EndTheWait. Elsa and Tilly share their experience of the day, from creating a video to sharing powerful stories with top civil servants.
I feel really proud to have been a part of the day with other Activists and to have been able to represent so many young people.
What were your preconceptions before the event? How were you supported in preparation for the event?
Tilly: This was the first time I‘d ever had the opportunity to speak to people in such senior positions of influence, so naturally, I was apprehensive. However, my nerves were eased by the support from the YoungMinds team. The night before, fellow Activists and staff participated in a Zoom call. This was a chance to practice the questions we’d been asked as part of a video interview to accompany the campaign.
Elsa: I wasn’t sure what to expect before the event, because I’d never done anything like it before. I was most nervous about asking the right questions and about how I would get my points across in a clear, concise way, given that we had a short amount of time.
The support we received before the event made a huge difference. It gave us the opportunity to talk through our answers with other Activists. I know that I have a tendency to ramble sometimes when I’m overthinking what I would like to say. It was helpful to have time to practice our answers and bounce ideas off each other about key points we wanted to get across.
The discussion flowed well and it was refreshing to see someone working within government so passionate about our stories and creating change!
What are your reflections of the events?
Tilly: The first conversation we had was with Munira Wilson MP. The discussion flowed well and it was refreshing to see someone working within government so passionate about our stories and creating change! This left us empowered for the rest of the day. We then made our way down to Parliament Square to conduct our video interviews.
This was my first time conducting a professional video interview, but overall, I enjoyed expressing my views on the power of the #EndTheWait campaign. The next leg of the day was the card hand-in, and we headed back to the DHSC to meet the Director for Mental Health and Disabilities, Fiona Walshe. Alongside two other colleagues, she spent time listening to the changes we would like to see before collecting the card from us.
Elsa: Speaking with Munira Wilson and Fiona Walshe was an extremely empowering experience. Each Activist got a chance to speak and share what’s important to us personally. The people we spoke to had a genuine interest and care for what we were sharing, and were keen to understand more about what could be done from our perspective. We also appreciated the support and encouragement to continue fighting for young people’s mental health. I hope they continue fighting for change with us.
I found the filming more challenging because it felt more unnatural. It was a very positive experience though, because we were able to stop when we needed to and go at our own pace. I enjoyed the varied questions and felt I could naturally move between topics and cover different points, without overthinking it. Creating the video was really powerful, because we knew we were representing the voices of the 10,000 names in our #EndTheWait card. We wanted to create something which allowed people to experience delivering the card with us.
Throughout the video and all of our conversations, we continued to mention the number of people who had signed the card and the fact that everyone signed it for a reason. They had a story and they’d struggled because of a lack of support. I hope that all of those people also feel empowered by the fact that their name made it through the doors of the DHSC. Everyone who has contributed to the campaign is a part of making young people’s voices heard.
I hope that all of those people also feel empowered by the fact that their name made it through the doors of the DHSC. Everyone who has contributed to the campaign is a part of making young people’s voices heard.
What was the support like on the day?
Elsa: The support on the day was really good and I felt like I could go at my own pace throughout each activity. We were briefed on what the day was going to be like as well as how to speak to an MP, which settled a lot of nerves from the get-go. As always, I knew I could take time out and ask questions when I needed to. When you’re not sure what to expect at an event it makes a huge difference to know you’re in a safe space and feel comfortable asking questions without the fear of being judged. YoungMinds staff definitely created this safe atmosphere so that we were comfortable to contribute as much as possible.
My top tip is to remember why you signed up to be an Activist and use that desire as your motivation to make a change.
What advice would you give to a young person who might be nervous about engaging with this type of event?
Tilly: However cliché this sounds, be yourself! You and your story are enough, and that is all you need to bring to any Activist event. My top tip is to remember why you signed up to be an Activist and use that desire as your motivation to make a change.
Elsa: I would say, as hard as it might be, try not to overthink it. I thought I would feel a lot more anxious while having conversations with people, but you realise that being yourself and talking from your heart comes more naturally than you think. You’re there for a reason and your experiences are valid. Remember that you know exactly what you’re doing, tell your story and trust yourself.
Also, ask questions and voice your concerns about the day. Sometimes talking through anxieties about an event can really help and make you realise that maybe your worries aren’t as big as you initially thought. Talking it through with a member of staff and learning more about the event before you decide to go will help you feel more confident. Go at your own pace and use the support that’s around you to boost yourself.
And don’t be afraid to challenge the people you’re speaking with! They’re also there for a reason, so use the opportunity to ask questions and talk about what matters to you.
This campaign gives young people the chance to say that we do matter and we deserve better.
Why did you sign up to be a part of this event? Why was it so important?
Tilly: I am passionate about the message behind the #EndTheWait campaign, and with the card attracting 10,000 signatures, it seems many other people are too. It was a privilege to take part and hand-in the card on behalf of all those voices.
Elsa: I wanted to challenge myself to do something I’d never done before and to speak to people who have the power to make real change. People at the head of these systems who, if they actively listen, can genuinely influence mental health support for young people. The #EndTheWait campaign is so important, because it covers three key areas of support that young people engage with the most.
These areas are falling short of what they can offer, meaning more and more young people are slipping through the cracks of the system and feeling that they don’t matter. This campaign gives young people the chance to say that we do matter and we deserve better. I feel really proud to have been a part of the day with other Activists and to have been able to represent so many young people.
It was brilliant to see the months of campaigning coming together with our amazing Activists, Jaiden, Elsa and Tilly, delivering an urgent message from thousands of campaigners to Government. They told powerful stories to top officials in DHSC and the Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, making the case for urgent reform of mental health support for young people. When young people come together and take meaningful action like this, change is possible.
We will continue to work with campaigners and Activists to push the Government to re-commit to a Long Term Plan for Mental Health, with young people at its heart. We don’t want to hear any more empty promises - it’s time for politicians to End The Wait for better support for young people’s mental health.
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