October 10, 2019

Standing up for our rights at Labour Party conference


This autumn, nine of our young ‘Rights Advocates’ seized an exciting opportunity to speak face-to-face with politicians about Our Minds Our Future, at the annual Labour and Conservative Party conferences. Here, Katie, a member of our Steering Group and Rights Advocate from Southampton talks about her experience of demanding our rights from the people in power.

Over two weekends in September, young campaigners with Our Minds Our Future led inspiring discussions with high-level politicians and decision-makers about young people’s experiences of the mental health system and how we can work together to make sure young people’s rights are respected. 

And they were listened to! Over the two conferences, 30 decision-makers – including MPs, Ministers and shadow ministers, members youth parliament, and charity leaders – took the #MyRightsMyMind pledge, promising to help build a mental health system that respects young people’s human rights. See all the pledge-takers here.

Read Katie’s account of the day below.

Katie leads a discussion on how we can work together to overcome barriers to young people getting support for their mental health.

“On Sunday 22nd September we managed to get eight pledges from local decision-makers, which is a brilliant result. Many people are inspired by our campaign. It’s a rights-based approach to mental health. 

What are we asking for? 

  1. Age-appropriate care for 16-25 year-olds.
  2. Early identification of mental health conditions and early interevention –to avoid crisis situations and so that young people don’t feel they have to go to extreme lengths to get the adequate care they deserve. 
  3. Community-based support – services like No Limits, Solent Mind and more services like this in the community. 
  4. Transparency and accountability – decisions made clear to us and not just being told we can’t get support. 
  5. Youth participation in decision-making – young people should be allowed a say in what care they deserve and need, and have a seat at the table when things aren’t going right or need challenging.  

It was a great experience and I’d love to do it again, I felt our campaign has gone to the next level and achieved so much already. It’s really inspiring.

Help us achieve better mental health support systems by signing our petition, which calls on decision-makers to take the #MyRightsMyMind pledge. 

Picture of Katie, Hannah and Kat leading their panel discussion at Labour Party Conference.

Statistics to be aware of:

  • 75% of mental health conditions start by the age of 24 and more than half by the age of 14. 
  • Did you know that it can take up to 18 months for a child or young person to be seen for mental health support? And even then they can be struck off the list of not given the correct support they need, leading to further crisis. 

Please share this with as many people as possible. Thank you.” 

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, took the #MyRightsMyMind pledge – pictured here with Katie, Hannah and Kat.

Katie posted about the Labour Party conference on Instagram and has received lots of likes, including from someone who is a former NHS Clinical Lead and psychotherapist. She has also emailed her CCG to share the campaign and our 5 main principles, asking if they have any statistics we can use about what’s good and bad about mental health support in the area. Katie has also emailed Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, as we didn’t get to speak to him at the Labour Party conference. 

You can read more about the #MyRightsMyMind pledge and see a full list of pledge-takers here. 

Next, we’ll be following up with all those decision-makers who’ve taken the pledge, holding them to their promise to respect young people’s mental health rights – starting by meeting with our young campaigners. We’ll keep you updated! 

Katie is a member of the Steering Group and a Rights Advocate for Our Minds Our Future.  If you’re interested in taking the campaign into your local area, email us at morr@youthaccess.org.uk


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