A GROUP of young people from the National Autistic Society have launched a campaign to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
They launched the ‘You Need To Know' charter in Parliament, where they were joined by Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds.
And to highlight their own experiences of autism, the young people have also made a film, ‘Open Your Mind', which was screened on the same day.
The 12-point ‘You Need To Know' charter calls for a number of changes to the CAMHS system, including practical steps such as the provision of areas without ticking clocks and whirring fans, and calls for CAMHS professionals to work with the education system.
Following the launch Mr Reynolds MP said: "It was a privilege to meet these intelligent and talented teenagers from the Young Campaigners Group. "They've worked extremely hard and overcome many difficulties to be able to produce their charter and film.
"Many of the points they have put forward are simple to put into practice, and some require little or no cost, and I will campaign locally to help our local CAMHS services to take these ideas on board".
At the launch Mr Reynolds met with a number of young people who had been involved in the making of the film and the launch of the charter, including Hollie Ryan.
Young campaigner Hollie, aged 15, said: "Having had a bad experience with CAMHS, I felt very strongly about improving the service, as I wouldn't want any other young people to go through what I did.
"For me, one of the most important things is that the CAMHS professionals should understand that everyone is different, and different things work for different people.
"On many occasions it has been assumed that I should act in a certain way because I have Asperger syndrome, when really I am totally different to every other young person, because I am me. A little understanding goes a very long way."
To help the Young Campaigners with their campaign, the NAS is calling on supporters to ask their local authority to pledge to use the charter to improve support from CAMHS for children with autism in their area.
NAS chief executive Mark Lever said: "The work of the Young Campaigners Group is so vital in helping to turn things around for children and young people with autism and mental health problems. With the right support at the right time, children with autism can have good mental health just as anyone else can - and the Young Campaigners Group aim to make this a reality."
More information about the You Need To Know campaign can be found at www.autism.org.uk/youneedtoknow
Published March 21, 2011