As a young person it can be remarkably challenging in accessing healthcare services. Sometimes it feels impossible to access them at all. Drawing from my own experiences, this blog explores why young people’s voices are so pertinent in ensuring they receive the great healthcare they are entitled to.
The struggles as a young person
My journey began when I had a severe allergic reaction at 16. I was immediately rushed to A+E, but I endured a daunting and uncomfortable 7 hour wait, feeling glares on me due to my noticeable allergic reaction. I did eventually manage to see a doctor and a nurse practitioner, who prescribed me some medication and ointment. Based on past experiences, I was worried that the treatment I was recommended wouldn’t be effective or work, so I raised this concern with the doctor who gave the response that she was the doctor and she knew best. Afraid of confrontation, I didn’t argue my case any further, even though there were so many other concerns I had. I was too afraid I wouldn’t be listened to.
The following morning, I woke up to find my allergic reaction had spread over my whole body. I was adamant when I told my parents that I wanted to stay at home, too embarrassed to have everyone see me like this. But with some encouragement from my parents, I finally took the courage to go back to A+E to get the treatment I deserved, where I managed to recover. Throughout my whole experience, I felt inferior, defeated and voiceless. If the doctor had just listened to me initially, then perhaps my allergic reaction progressing any further could have been prevented.
Since then, I’ve had frequent minor allergic reactions and countless trips to my GP in hopes of being able to find a long term treatment for my allergic reactions. My experience in A+E made me feel I had no hope at all. Eventually, through a referral from my GP, I was diagnosed with Chronic Urticaria, an autoimmune response, which had been what caused my body to have such frequent allergic reactions. I now have a long term care, and I can finally say my health is in a good place.
Why are youth voices so important?
It can feel like a constant battle trying to get your voice heard as a young person, not being believed in, or taken seriously enough. Sometimes, you question the point in accessing services if you’re not going to be listened to, or you feel like you’re never going to get anywhere in terms of help. Having input in shapingwhat works for you and what doesn’t, and not having to consent to everything to please everyone else is vitally important. It’s all about ownership, and young people having the autonomy to have a say in their own health.
It’s about taking small steps, in being honest and open about your health to healthcare professionals. We can be swayed by letting one bad experience preclude our judgement, making us fearful or anxious of any encounters we may have with healthcare services in the future. Receiving the right kind of help can take time and be draining, but we have to persist and continue to reach out for help because someone along the way will listen and your voice will be heard. And once you receive the right kind of help, you can finally feel yourself get better.