Last November, Pulse, the UK’s leading publication for GP related news, published the article, “We have medicalised normal life and it’s destroying the NHS”. This is the response from a young person.
Fighting negative stereotypes
I have been to many appointments where a healthcare professional hasn’t spoke to me for the whole appointment; they have only spoken to my Mum. I have tried to tell a Doctor how I am feeling but I am not listened to because I am not taken seriously. If a Doctor had listened to me early on, rather than assuming my concern was a “teenage” phase, I believe a lot of my health issues could have been prevented.
The Pulse article states:
“Somewhere along the line, our society has medicalised normal life. A patient’s grief after the loss of a spouse is diagnosed as ‘bereavement reaction’, while an insecure youngster is diagnosed with ‘anxiety and depression’. Are people not allowed to be sad anymore?”
Many young people going through mental health crisis’ feel like they aren’t ill enough to reach out for help, fearing judgment. This article validates those beliefs, and this should not be the case. Society today is complex and overwhelming. What we shouldn’t be normalising is young people being bullied, having panic attacks, living in a world full of diet culture, not being accepted for who we are, having to fight to be heard and all the other things societies impose on young people. Dismissing young people’s feelings is dangerous: mental health should be equal to physical health. Please listen and choose kindness.
There is a stereotype that young people are lazy, unkind, moody, dramatic and self-centred. This stereotype is damaging for young people who are simply trying to exist in a fast-changing world in which they have no control. Young people are fighting for a world without an environmental crisis. Young people are working to help make NHS services accessible and without inequalities. Young people want to make this world a brighter place, but bias often prevents them from effecting the changes they want to see – which, combined with a load of other problems, can take its mental toll.
Young people making positive impact
My passion for accessibility and changing the negative stereotypes around young people led me to joining Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG).
YPAG is a group working together to make services more centered around young people. Alongside other advisory groups across the UK, it is filled with passionate young people who want to make services better for future generations. They all work so hard in their free time to combat articles like Pulse’s. They aren’t the problem.
There are lots of brilliant healthcare professionals out there. I do not want to dismiss all their hard work because it is valued so much, particularly at a time when the NHS is more overstretched than ever. I have had lots of excellent care, but my negative experiences have really affected me. I still worry about seeing a healthcare professional, from the times I have been told I am not “ill”. I have felt I don’t deserve help and I am sure many other young people feel the same.
Beth’s work with the NHS Youth Forum
Beth is part of the NHS Youth Forum mental health sub-group. This sub-group is using survey responses to highlight mini projects taking place at local level that are improving care. They hope that by highlighting these small projects, they can help build more consistent care across the nation for young people.