Young people in West Sussex take a lead on mental health issues

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Young people from across West Sussex will be exploring issues surrounding mental health later this month.

The ‘Free Your Mind Convention’ is being held at County Hall North, Horsham, on Tuesday October 28, 10am-4pm.

Members of the West Sussex youth cabinet, Horsham Young People’s Empowered Representatives and Worthing Borough Council have come together to organise the event, which will tackle three of the main mental health issues for young people – awareness and stigma, information services for young people and how services can improved.

A number of informative, fun workshops have been designed with input from people with personal experience, as well as key decision-makers in the area.

Other activities include finding out how young people want to access basic mental health information and there will be an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of people who work in this field or who have personal experience of mental health issues.

Dominic Marks, one of the young people involved in planning the Free Your Mind Convention, said: “The group has worked hard to create a convention that will allow us to target our three main issues for young people, parents and practitioners to create more awareness in an area that is often ignored.”

Christine Field, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, will be visiting the conference during the afternoon.

She said: “It is inspiring to see young people working together to organise an event of this kind.

“It will enable young people in our county to talk openly and honestly about a subject that can, at times, be misunderstood and they will be able to tell us what we can and should be doing to help them.”

As well as young people, parents/carers and professionals working with young people with mental health issues will also be able to attend the conference.

The findings from the workshops will be shared with services that work with young people, and will be used to help shape the way they are delivered in future.

Becca Randell, who is the Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service Commissioner for West Sussex County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Groups, added: “As commissioners of emotional wellbeing and mental health services, we strongly believe that we need to hear what children and young people are saying about the services they receive, the services they need and want in the future.”

If you would like to attend the event, there are limited spaces still available. Tickets are free and can be booked via Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.co.uk (search ‘Free Your Mind Convention’).