Mental health high on agenda for young voices

Raising awareness of mental health issues among young people has been one of the early achievements of the North Yorkshire Youth Executive, which brings together young people from different backgrounds from across the county.

At the presentation of the Youth Voice Executive’s end of year report at County Hall are (centre) chair Emily Capstick with other members of the Executive and (left) County Council Assistant Director Inclusion Jane Le Sage and (right) Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services Stuart Carlton.

Senior officers from North Yorkshire County Council and other guests, including the recently appointed chair of North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board, Professor Maggie Atkinson, heard about the Executive’s work at the presentation of its end of year report at County Hall, Northallerton, on Tuesday (17 July).

Mental health has been a priority for the organisation and members have created a flowchart offering tried and tested support for concerned young people. The aim is to have the flowchart available in every secondary school in the county.

Emily Capstick, chair of the Youth Voice Executive, said: “I speak to people daily that say to me ‘I am really struggling at home and really struggling with my schoolwork and my mental health suffers because of that’. It is a massive issue and to tackle it young people have said to us that they need quicker access to services, so we have made this flowchart. It lists useful links that we have checked and that we know are fantastic for young people to go to.

“We also plan to create a team of young inspectors. This will be a group of young people who, under a Caring Cultures Awards scheme that we are developing, can go into schools and evaluate their services relating to mental health, life skills and environment. Schools would then be asked to make changes based on the inspectors’ findings.

“We are making the change that young people want. We are making it with these young people and for the benefit of these young people.”

The meeting also heard from other Executive representatives about work being done in support of LGBT+ communities, people with experience of care and those with disabilities or additional needs.

County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s services, said: “The energy and passion shown by members of the Youth Voice Executive is exciting and inspiring. What they have achieved in little over a year is impressive and I know their opinions are valued and are actively sought by the County Council and its partners when considering services for young people.

“I’m glad we are able to facilitate and support such an important body as part of this authority’s commitment to listening to the voices of young people.”

The Youth Voice Executive was formed after North Yorkshire Children’s Trust Board recognised the need for a body to give young people representing various groups the opportunity to work with each other and decision makers to improve the lives of young people.

The Executive is supported by the County Council’s Voice, Influence and Participation team. Its first meeting was in February last year with representatives of young carers, LGBT+ communities, school councils, the Flying High group for people with disabilities or additional needs, the Young People’s Council for people who have experienced care, Military Kids Clubs for children of service personnel, Selby and Harrogate youth groups and county members of the British Youth Parliament.

Next month, it will hold a residential event at which, among other things, it will work to encourage more schools, youth groups and under-represented young people to become actively involved in its work.

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