The importance of talking and thinking about mental health is often emphasised in today's society, but most of us will find it difficult to start a discussion about such a personal issue. As a result, the Welsh Youth Parliament has been working very hard to get rid of the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health. As a member of its Emotional and Mental Health Support Committee, it’s very clear to me that action is needed on this issue, and we certainly want to work towards increasing the support available to young people here in Wales. On 'Time to Talk' day, we therefore have the opportunity to start a discussion about our mental health with support and without stigma, as well as asking our families, guardians and friends about their mental health.
'Time to Talk' day is also an opportunity for us to start discussing the Welsh Youth Parliament’s mental health consultation, which will be available for young people aged 11-25 to complete at the end of February. The committee, which is made up of 26 members, has been discussing ideas at regional meetings of the Youth Parliament, and as a result we have identified some of the biggest mental health problems that we face here in Wales, namely a lack of awareness and training for employees, the impact of social media, stigma and the need for action. We have already taken action on these by contacting Members of the Children, Young People and Education Committee to discuss ideas and findings, as well as participating in mental health events. I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the launch of a Welsh language mental health resource pack by www.meddwl.org, reporting back on some of the biggest problems facing young people today and trying to show young people in Wales that there are some common problems facing us all.
We also had the opportunity to do a carousel session at our last residential meeting, where we were able to talk to representatives from local authorities, the education sector and the National Assembly for Wales. It was a great opportunity to be able to discuss what needs to be done to support the mental health of young people in Wales, especially as we followed this up with a 'Question Time' session, where a panel of four members discussed how they have been affected by mental health.
The next step therefore was to develop our mental health consultation, which will include two questionnaires; one for young people and the other for adults working with young people. It's very important to us as a Youth Parliament that we represent the views of all young people across Wales and we are therefore very keen for as many people as possible to complete our consultation. So, make sure you keep an eye out for our questionnaires which will be available at the end of the month, and remember to take the step today and start a conversation about mental health.