Friday 6 August 2010

Here Be Dragons

The "Men of Gwent" appear at the Eisteddfod to show solidarity with the "Road to Recovery". Their youthful enthusiasm reminds me to reference here Hafal's recent work with young people. But first, and still on the Maes, Hafal Chair Elin Jones attended Children in Wales' Forum on Children and asked the panel (loose translations again):

You have all referred to those most vulnerable children as being in need of support, but in Hafal we are concerned for the most vulnerable of all, those at risk of developing a serious mental illness. At our recent Seminar attended by professionals from all relevant services as well as young people, the need for mainstream services to provide proper support for these children was identified as a priority. Do you agree, and if so, how should this be done at a time of cuts in finance?

Helen Mary Jones AM, Chair of the National Assembly’s Children and Young People Committee, accepted the need but felt that the plans to provide a nurse in every secondary school in Wales would be a positive step in this direction, together with the role of the school council in developing an understanding among both pupils and staff of the nature of mental illness. She thought that one teacher should have training in this field as well, and be responsible for knowing the details of the pupil’s circumstances and supporting them. She also felt that early identification of problems should help to prevent them from becoming worse, and that an important aspect of supporting children with mental health problems would be greater understanding by everyone that recovery from a serious mental illness is possible – it shouldn’t be seen as a life sentence.

Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services, praised Hafal’s work in campaigning on behalf of this section of society, and agreed with Helen Mary. She also argued that the greater integration of services, being introduced next month, would help to improve the situation.

Dr Iolo Doull, speaking from the doctor’s standpoint, said the sooner the patient was seen, the less likely it was that serious problems would develop.

Siân Wyn Siencyn, Trinity University College, said the greater openness in education, the opportunities to learn and express feelings through play, and the greater willingness to listen to children and respect what they say can only help children to make their voices heard.

Hafal's report on our Seminar can be seen here and you can contact Gavin Williams, Hafal's Young People Lead, and John Gilheany, responsible for creating our Lottery-sponsored information for young people, at Hafal's Head Office (see this link).