On Wednesday 14th May, local university student Sophina Khan won pledges from the Chair of a city Clinical Commissioning Group ensuring all young people will get access to mental health services. Sophina shared her powerful story of what it was like as a young person in care trying to get mental health treatment. She spoke in front of a packed Mount Zion Conference Centre in Aston where 428 people from communities across Birmingham gathered at the Public Assembly of Citizens UK: Birmingham – an alliance of schools, churches, mosques, trade unions and community groups.
In Birmingham, under-16s can have access to specialist services from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), whilst over-18s are covered by the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust.
This leaves vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds with no access to specialist mental health services, at an important transitional stage in their lives.
“I felt invisible, lonely, dehumanised and angry. I felt like a case number. I never got access to specialist mental health services like the CAMHS service. To this date, several years on I am still coping with the effects.”
Dr Andrew Coward, Chair of Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“..We will create world class mental health services for young people through our 0-25 Community Mental Health Service work. I also pledge that while this work is going on we would ensure that young people aged 17-19 can get the services they need.”
Writing in his blog today, Dr Coward said:
“It was inspirational, Birmingham at its best. Young people, old people, a mix of races and religions, speaking with one voice, demanding social justice and a better future. Citizens UK aim to ‘reweave the fabric of society’ and that was palpable last night, there was a sense of togetherness, of solidarity.”
Other issues won on the night, we’re a commitment from Sir Albert Bore to help make Birmingham the first Living Wage City, Police & Crime Commissioner, Bob Jones, gave his backing for new Safe Haven pilots, pledges on jobs by Cllr Ian Ward and the DWP agreement to tackle benefit excessive payment delays.