I was chosen to take part in ENYA alongside my friend Rosie. ENYA is an integration platform for countries to meet and discuss the issues we all share. I was so grateful to be chosen, as mental health is a subject which I am very passionate about. In fact it is what I’m choosing as my future career, as a mental health nurse.
In our presentations we explored both the flaws and strengths in each country’s mental health system. This provided us with an opportunity to listen to other alternatives which we could implement or advise as strategies. It seemed, however, most countries shared similar flaws and recommendations for change. For example, almost every country advocated for mental health services to be more community based. This would make them not only more accessible but would loosen the strains on the health systems and be increasingly effective.
It was fantastic to see how so many of us who would be classed as ‘stereotypical young people’ were able to come together and show our passion. It is clear not only in Northern Ireland but across Europe that young people are calling for a change.
This opportunity offered me a much larger platform than the offices we used. It felt like we could finally address this stigmatised subject, each of us solving its complexity together. I feel that the NICCY youth panel has changed my life, it has made me understand issues that affect every single individual.
Through my own experience of our mental health system and my opportunity to be on the panel, I feel I can help other young people through these issues. With our campaigning we can combat mental health’s negative connotations.
We must stop taking an exclusive negative view. Mental health is not something we magically become accustomed to in teenage years. It is present in early childhood and in fact our experiences in childhood are linked to our experience in adulthood. To label mental health as an ‘adult problem’ is to deny the existing reality that it is paralleled within our own existence.
Through working together and acknowledging it, we are half way there as this would stop people feeling lost and spiralling into much deeper problems. As those coming through this journey it is our responsibility to guide those still battling it. At times you may fall, excel or simply be borderline coping. Therefore, there is a need to let others know they are not alone. I will continue to try my best to help those left in the dark as we all feel left in the dark at times.