In the lead up to World Mental Health Day (Thursday 10 October), Emma Oliver, a local mum whose teenage son took his own life, is urging children and young people in Leeds to open up about their mental health and know where to go for support in a crisis.
Emma said: “World Mental Health Day is a good way of raising awareness and reminding children and young people what they can access if they need urgent help. This year’s theme for the day is suicide, something that’s quite close to me.
“My son Daniel took his own life because of exam stress and anxiety in February 2017, at the age of 15. Daniel would revise for hours each night, as he felt he wouldn’t remember anything for his exams. His mood started to lower and he was becoming argumentative which wasn’t like him at all. Looking back I wish he’d spoken to me and got the support he needed.
“Talking about your mental health isn’t always easy, especially for children and young people. My advice is if you’re not feeling like yourself then please talk to someone that you can trust, this includes talking to your teacher, tell them about how you’re feeling.
“My advice to parents, carers, friends and professionals that work with children and young people to know the signs when you know a child or a young person isn’t being themselves. Be aware of their behaviour change this includes cutting off their network of friends, aren’t talking as much, not going out as much and a change in their mood.”
Dr Jane Mischenko, Strategic Lead Commissioner for Children and Maternity at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “My deepest condolences go to Emma and I would like to thank her for sharing her experience of her son taking his own life, as no parent should have to go through what she did. In Leeds we’re working really hard with schools, professionals and with voluntary and community organisations to ensure that children and young people get the help they need for their mental health and wellbeing. We recognise that there is still a long way to go as stories like Emma’s show as a single young life lost is one too many. However, in Leeds we are committed in ensuring that there are services in place for children and young people when they are in a crisis, as this aligns with our Future in Mind Local Transformation Plan.
“We have MindMate Ambassadors, who are a group of young people with a real passion in improving mental health support for children and young people in Leeds. There are eight ambassadors, who promote the MindMate website, encourage young people to talk about their mental health and work with young people in the city to continue developing the website. The ambassadors will be at Leeds City College (Park Lane campus) on Thursday 10 October during lunchtime and at Pudsey Civic Hall on Saturday 12 October from 9am to 4pm, raising awareness of the support available to children and young for their mental health.”
In Leeds, children and young people can access the MindMate website (www.mindmate.org.uk), which provides mental health and emotional wellbeing advice and information for children and young people across Leeds. They can also access the following services if they’re ever in crisis:
- Teen Connect: for young people aged 13 – 18 years in Leeds, who are in a crisis and is open from 6pm to 2am every night of the year. Call 0808 800 1212 or you can send a text to 0771 5661559. For further information visit lslcs.org.uk/services/connect-helpline/teen-connect
- Safe Zone: a crisis service for young people aged 11 – 17 years in Leeds, open every Monday from 7 to 10pm (the last drop in to safe zone will be 9.30pm) at The Market Place, 18A New Market Street, Leeds, LS1 6DG. For further information themarketplaceleeds.org.uk/safezone
- Samaritans: for anyone who is in a crisis can call Samaritans on 116 123, open 24 hours a day, 356 days a year
- Childline: to talk about anything, Childline can be contacted on 0800 1111
Notes to editors
Future in Mind: Leeds (Local Transformational Plan, 2016 – 2020)
Find out more about the Future in Mind Strategy by visiting https://www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/publications/future-in-mind-leeds-local-transformational-plan-2016-2020/
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