On the 4th of November, we and the Gloucestershire participation group travelled to London to meet MP Glenda Jackson to discuss what the government should be doing to support young people with mental health issues. We set off early on the train and discussed our pre-made notes and questions for Glenda.

Once we arrived at Paddington we got straight on the tube and straight to Portcullis house to meet Alec. We met Glenda in reception and got mildly told off for being slightly late (due to train delays). We met in the canteen of Portcullis house and started to talk to get to know each other and how this opportunity had come about. We explained about the participation group and how it has benefited us both.

Next we all spoke about some of the points from the notes we had both made prior to the meeting, about referrals and waiting times for assessment and Glenda explained that there wasn’t much she could do about this as it is simply funding and the main governments cuts that makes this one of the areas to be affected. We also bought up the issue of inpatient care and how it was grossly underfunded and how young people in crisis were being turned away from the care that they needed. Glenda explained that this was the same issue as referrals and assessment times concerning money and local budget cuts.

The next topic was raising the stigma of mental health and how we could all go about trying to do this, Glenda explained that this isn’t just a new issue, and this has been an ongoing issue since the start of time, and really there wasn’t anything that we could do except start at the beginning of the problem with educating people about the issues that surround mental health.

I bought up the issues of schools and them not educating young people about mental health including self-harm long/short term issues and ways of coping with difficult thoughts also educating young people on why people get mental health issues and explaining about chemicals and help and support. People go into schools and talk to young people about drugs and alcohol even STI’s and safe sex, but never mental health. I explained that I had planned a project to get a team together to go into schools and educate young people (years 7, 8 & 9) on mental health to reduce the stigma in primary and secondary schools. Glenda liked the sound of this project and has since called my mum to discuss this, also she sent us a package including the third CAMHS report of the mental health committee, to help with the project. We are now planning the lessons and project outline to take to our local MP, Jeffery Clifton Brown.

Once we had finished our conversation, we went outside to the member’s garden and had our photo taken with Glenda and Amira took a selfie with her! We then left Portcullis house and got back on the tube to see the poppies outside the tower of London where we sat and ate our lunch. Then we got the train home.

This was an absolute honour to meet Glenda Jackson and discuss our issues with the support network of mental health, and explain our new plans for future improvements. And all in all, it was a very positive, enjoyable day.