Young Healthwatch Rutland kicked off in September 2018 at Jules House with five enthusiastic young volunteers, following an online advert appealing to young people who might be interested in meeting up and having their say on local health and care issues.
From the beginning, the young volunteers wanted to drive their own agenda and activities, facilitated by Healthwatch Rutland staff.
In their meetings they wondered how young people in Rutland accessed mental health services, and if they knew about them at all. Could they help to make sure that young people have up-to-date information on mental health services? The more people know, the more likely they are to look for help. So the group worked on putting together a survey to find out what matters most to their age group when thinking about mental health.
To pilot the survey Young Healthwatch Rutland went to a ‘Chatterbox’ event for ‘Time to Talk’ day in February in Oakham to talk directly to other young people about mental health. The idea was to chat over a tea or coffee to hear about their thoughts and experiences. The event was after school from 3.30-5pm and they managed to get lots of surveys completed.
From the pilot survey Young Healthwatch Rutland learnt what is important:
- Help teens to not feel ashamed or embarrassed about discussing their mental health
- Make sure schools are aware of the importance of mental health – it’s not a minor issue
- More advertising needed so young people know where to get help
- Make sure young people know they can go to their GP about mental health worries
In December 2018 YHWR joined up with Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire to visit patients in Kettering General Hospital to spread some Christmas cheer by delivering cards made by a local primary school. This was followed by a joint meeting where Young Healthwatch Rutland learnt more about the work of an established Young Healthwatch and agreed that it would be a great idea to visit services in the future that both groups use.
During the next year Young Healthwatch Rutland hope to increase the number of young volunteers and use the survey as widely as they can to get as many views as possible. They also want to reach out to other young peoples’ groups such as, the Youth Council, the Disabled Youth Forum and Youth Chaos, to make sure everyone’s views are heard.