Published on 22.11.19
Recently Tiny Changes was invited to attend the ‘We Can’ conference organised by The Mental Health Foundation which focussed on the mental health of young people with long term conditions. As an uncle to Morven who suffers from a genetic condition called cystinosis I found it very interesting to learn about the impact a long term condition can have on a young person’s mental health. There were talks from Audrey Kerr, a clinical nurse specialising in diabetes, Sejal Patel, a principal clinical psychologist in cystic fibrosis and Elaine Lockhart, a paediatric liaison psychiatry consultant. Every professional who spoke mentioned the importance of the transitional periods in a young person’s life and how these need to be carefully managed. Whether that is someone with a long term condition who is moving from the children’s hospital set up to the adult system or any child moving from nursery to school and primary to secondary. These life changing moments are often taken in a young person’s stride but for some these can be periods of such uncertainty and such anxiety that they can be very difficult to navigate.
What I thought was most inspiring from our day at the We Can conference was how much of the focus of the day was on giving the Youth Panel Volunteers an opportunity to tell their story and explain what life with a long term condition can be like. There were inspirational talks from Sarah Strachan, Rosie Gemmell and Ailsa Lindsay which highlighted the importance of the need for more support and more initiatives to help young people with mental health issues. As part of Tiny Changes I am committed to giving those without a voice a place to stand and be heard and have the charity be a leader in changing attitudes towards young people’s mental health by hearing what they need from us.