Mind's 'Youth Voice Network'

Pupil and panel speaker, Jasmine Baker, reports from Mind's 'Youth Voice Network' webinar regarding the impact of COVID-19 on children's mental health

On Thursday 22 April, from 10:00am to 5:30pm, clinicians, researchers, teachers and young people joined over Zoom to discuss policy aspirations of the 2017 government initiative ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision - a Green Paper’ in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the day, speakers discussed how lockdown has affected mental health in our nation’s schools, and how mental health interventions can be implemented in schools to provide earlier access to care.

As a speaker at this event, I shared my own experiences alongside five other young people, particularly in relation to the short and long term consequences of lockdown on vulnerable children. Other sections included ‘the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and young people’ and ‘has COVID-19 provided an argument to abolish exams?’ My section intrigued me being someone who has attended both state school for 5 years and now Charterhouse since September, and allowed me to share my own experiences of the differing mental health support.

Many mental health professionals participated in the event, namely Vicky Ford MP, Paul Farmer who is the chief executive of Mind, Amanda Spielman from Ofsted, Dr Gordana Milavić from the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke who has been included in the Clarivate list of “most influential scientific minds” in psychiatry for the impact of his work as a professor, Steve Chalke who is the founder of Oasis Global, as well as many others. This is insightful for me as a student who aspires to pursue a career in psychiatry, and I felt honoured to be speaking amongst such highly respected individuals in the field.

Overall, the event was a success and involved nearly 400 individuals in the audience watching through Zoom. I wish to participate in other events which are similar when the opportunity arises, and hope that my participation in Mind’s Youth Voice Network allows me to do so going forward. On a greater level, I hope the webinar has helped inspire the changes that need to occur for mentally unwell individuals to be supported through education.