It’s time to put the rights and experiences of young people at the centre of decision-making

Youth Access statement in response to the Health and Education Select Committees’ joint report “The Government’s Green Paper on Mental Health: Failing a Generation.”

As advocates for a radical change in the youth mental health system, Youth Access agrees with the Select Committees’ assessment that the government’s proposals to tackle the “burning injustice” of the youth mental health crisis lack ambition.

Having led consultations on the Green Paper with young people around the country, we’ve heard first-hand the concern, anger and disappointment from those who are already suffering under the current mental health system. What’s not captured in the Green Paper, or in today’s report, is the frustration felt by young people who are continually shut out of decisions about their own mental health treatment and how services are funded – despite being experts by experience.

James Kenrick, CEO of Youth Access, says:

“The young people we speak to are tired of being treated as statistics, tick-boxes and targets. Young people have a right to be heard and for their experiences to shape decisions about mental health services. It’s time we stopped trying to spoon-feed them false solutions and actually pulled up a seat at the table.

“When we actually listen to young people and put their needs, rights and experiences – not systems, budgets and bureaucracy – at the centre of decision-making, it’s evident that tinkering around the edges of a system that is failing so many won’t cut it any more. We need a seismic shift in how we approach mental health, upholding young people’s rights to timely mental health support and putting young voices front and centre.”

Youth Access advocates a rights-based, young person-centred approach to youth mental health with a far bigger role for accessible early intervention services that address the social determinants of young people’s mental health and tackle health inequalities.

Youth Access’ Make Our Rights Reality project teaches young people about their rights and how to use them to address injustice and create social change. Young people’s first national campaign, Our Minds Our Future, will be led by a network of young activists around the country, pushing for a seat at the table in decisions about local mental health services.

For further information, see:


James Kenrick

020 8772 9900