How joining the CAMHS Young People’s Board helped me
I experienced depression, anxiety and self-harm from when I was pretty young. I was referred to CAMHS eventually and my worker there suggested it may help me to join a group of other young people who had had similar experiences with their mental health. I reluctantly agreed and went to along to a young women’s group run by the Hear Our Voice project. Although I was extremely nervous for the first few sessions, I began to enjoy it. It felt like a safe place where I could talk about anything, including my mental health, and was just accepted. We did fun things such as baking and art, and I met new people allowing me to make friends.
When I had been going there for a few months and was feeling more confident around people, the youth workers asked me if I’d like to join the Cornwall CAMHS Young People’s board and I agreed. Being on the board gives me a chance to have a voice in young people’s mental health services. We have lots of opportunities to get involved – we have helped to develop this website for young people in Cornwall, we regularly talk to CAMHS managers and commissioners about how they can make services better for children and young people in the future, we sit on interview panels for new staff and we have run events and made films to raise awareness of mental health, you can see my story here.
Being part of the board has really helped me, I interact with lots of other young people and am much more confident, and I love the fact that I am able to help others who are going through the same mental health problems as I am and having support from CAMHS like I did. I get to help others and the community and this has improved my own mental health problems – it keeps me busy, helps me to meet new people and make friends, and makes me feel better about myself as I know I am making a difference. I was also able to develop skills and experience which helped me with my university application and the transition to living away from home.
Being part of these groups has made a huge and amazing difference to my life, I feel less in fear of being in groups and of my mental illness because of my participation and the new friends I have made.