A teenager with autism who is treated by adult mental health services feels that individual’s needs are not being met.
Kirstie Greer, 19, was diagnosed with autism when she was 14 years old.
She has created a poster with Fixers about mental health. It depicts a Victorian mind map on a human head with the message ‘One Size Fits All Doesn’t Work! Individuals Have Individual Needs.’
You can view it below.
'It’s important to look at people as individuals and try to understand their differences,’ says Kirstie, from Bangor in County Down.
‘Mental health is so much more difficult to define and deal with as opposed to physical health and no two people are the same, which is what I want to get across.’
Kirstie intends to put her posters up in adult mental health services, doctor’s surgeries, libraries, schools, colleges and universities.
‘I’m also going to put them in the offices of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and local politician’s offices. I want to get my message to professionals and decision makers,’ she says.
Kirstie, who was also diagnosed with a moderate learning difficulty, says it was a stressful experience moving from children’s into adult mental health services.
‘There was a lot of uncertainty about what type of support I would get. At times it seemed I didn’t fit certain criteria and people didn’t know where to put me. I got quite depressed. I just felt low.’
Kirstie’s support is now provided by adult mental health services. She sees a social worker and psychiatrist from different parts of Adult Mental Health and a psychologist from Adult Autism.
She says: ‘Each team looks after particular aspects of my care and often, the way one is dealing with a particular issue will impact negatively with something one of the others is addressing. The support needs to be coordinated.’
Kirstie hopes her Fixers campaign highlights the complex nature of individuals’ different needs so that they can be properly supported as children; through the transition process into adult services; and in the long-term.
‘I’d like to see more funding going into adult autism services to set up an intervention service that incorporates all the various teams working together to support adults of different ages with long term care needs,’ she says.
‘If this can happen, I and other people living with autism will have the right support to become as independent as possible and the opportunity to reach our full potential.’
Kirstie's project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.