A Voice and A Choice – Right Here young people and mental health showcase

On 4 February Mark Brown, Editor at One in Four magazine attended the Right Here 'A Voice and A Choice' Showcase event.

Right Here’s ‘A Voice and A Choice’ Showcase event, designed to explore best practice and youth involvement in supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people, was buzzing with young people really fired up about mental health. I had the pleasure of hanging out with a number of them over the day as they tweeted, discussed and presented across the day.

If you’ve been to conferences about ‘young people’s issues’ before, you might expect involvement of young people to have been limited to a few slots saying how brilliant it was to have services provided for them.

At ‘A Voice and a Choice’ it was obvious how much the young people involved are partners, not subjects to be empowered. Over the day I heard young people outlining the problems of mental health services, explaining and showing what it was like to be a young person accessing a service, explaining what it was like to live in a constant climate of fear and violence, and -most excitingly – not just outlining the problems they’d identified but, how as part of Right Here, how they’d come up with solutions and put them into action.

The feeling that came across from ‘A Voice and A Choice’ was not of young people saying ‘listen to our demands’ but ‘work with us to support and amplify these changes that we’re in the process of making happen ourselves’.

Far from being either passive agents having ‘good’ done to them or wild-eyed optimists unschooled in the way of the world; the young people I met and heard from at ‘A Voice and a Choice’ were young people who’d experienced difficulties, found something that’d helped and seen just enough things of how things can change to know ‘not good enough’ isn’t something for which they, or us, should settle.