Sam Barakat works as a Mental Health First Aider and knows from experience seeking help isn’t always easy.
Growing up with depression, she found accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) difficult, due to her school schedule and fear of her parents finding out.
The 21-year-old from Finchley, London, has teamed up with Fixers to create a film calling for CAMHS services to be made more accessible to young people, without the need for parental consent.
‘I don’t have a good relationship with my family, so my mental health is not something I’m comfortable talking about with them.’ She explains. ‘For CAMHS you need a referral from your GP, and I was worried about them finding out, and school policy meant that I couldn’t leave lessons without their consent.
‘I ended up getting counselling from an online charity as oppose to going through CAMHS when I was 16, which helped by giving me someone to talk to. But face to face conversation would have been preferable.
‘I think for some people, getting parents involved would be a good thing, but it should be looked at on a case by case basis, as opposed to just a blanket rule. When a risk is posed then yes, confidentiality would be broken, but at present, whatever issues you’re experiencing, parents will find out one way or another.’
Sam is now a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor, teaching adults who work with young people how to help those suffering with mental health issues.
She hopes to use her Fixers film to launch a campaign targeting mental health service providers, and create a petition to change CAMHS confidentiality policy.
Part of her campaign will involve working with schools to raise awareness of what CAMHS services are, for young people who have never been told about them.
‘I would say that schools need to do more in providing this information’ says Sam. ‘At school it’s more about following the curriculum, and even then when mental health is brought up, they will say ‘you can talk to us’ but they don’t actually tell you about the services in the area.
‘I want to try and make schools talk about CAMHS and provide leaflets and handouts to students, so that they know where to go when they are struggling with their mental health.’
Sam has created a website for her campaign, where you can sign her petition.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.