“There Needs To Be More Mental Health Support In Schools”: Oliver’s Story

As a part of Our Minds Our Future Wales – Call to Action campaign, we sat down with 20-year-old Oliver who shared some of his personal experiences and explained how he could have been supported better throughout his mental health journey.  

Looking back at your journey, what would you ask services to put in place to make things better? 

OLIVER: I believe that there needs to be more mental health support in schools, especially around the GCSE time. Also, I wish there were little to no waiting lists for mental health support. I know it is difficult to do but it is a big factor that could have made my experiences better. As things drag on longer, it can be more difficult to want support after weeks of waiting. 

Have you found it easy to move between different services? 

OLIVER: I have, although I have mostly been in the same [mental health] ones so it has been relatively easy when introduced to new people and services.  

Tell us about a time on your journey that made you feel safe, welcomed, and respected. What was it that made you feel like that? 

OLIVER: When going to the Hafal office for the day to help interview people for a position in the company. At the start of the day, I had some bad anxiety but everyone was very calm and helped me feel part of the team. I ended up staying the whole day, had a lot of fun, and contributed a lot.  

Over the last 12 months when lots of services have moved online due to COVID-19, how have you found this experience?  

OLIVER: Some things are good but it has generally opened up more anxiety because I personally hate video group calls and phone calls in general. I have struggled to feel comfortable doing anything but I am slowly getting used to it and becoming slightly more confident. 

Have you had the opportunity to speak to any key influencers or decision-makers about your experience?  

OLIVER: I’ve spoken with support workers and managers but no one publicly – no minister or press or anything similar.  

Who are the key influencers and decision-makers you’d like to talk to you?  

OLIVER: I’d like to talk to anyone and everyone. I’d like to be in documentaries about mental health so I can share my own life and experiences.  

Our Minds Our Future aims to be a source of support for young people such as Oliver who are keen to improve emotional wellbeing and mental health services. The Call To Action campaign includes the main priorities for young people across Wales – known as the 5 demands. The 5 demands are explained in more depth here.