We are now just weeks away from the Dublin 2017 IAYMH Conference and I’m excited! I first engaged with the International Association of Youth Mental Health when I joined the conference in Montreal in 2015 to speak about peer support and student mental health. The event was lively, engaging and thought-provoking. It was unlike any conference I’ve attended before, bringing together academics, clinicians, charities and young people. I left the event with a passionate resurgence of energy, reminded that my work on Youth Mental Health was needed and valued.
Globally we need the movement around Youth Mental Health to take off. In the UK, we have seen a massive swell in attention directed towards mental health, with the national Heads Together campaign. However, I think we need more attention on Youth Mental Health. Most of lifetime mental health difficulties onset before the age of 25, so our priority for mental health needs to be young people. We are seeing an increase in the prevalence of mental health difficulties among young people and we do not know the cause. We continue to see treatment gaps, and we have not found the solutions.
For me, the IAYMH conference is a beacon of light and hope. Bringing together experts from around the world, the conference provides us with an opportunity to think about how to tackle these enormous problems. I left my first encounter with the IAYMH conference with a global network of clinicians, researchers and experts-by-lived-experience. These are people I’ve stayed in touch with over the last two years, collaborated with on research and drawn strength from to find renewed motivation to keep hunting down solutions for youth mental health. I’m looking forward to the conference in Dublin, the opportunity to catch up with old friends and the chance to stumble upon new friendships.
This year I’ll be speaking again about Peer Support for student mental health. I was a lone voice in 2015, but am thrilled to see a whole session in this year’s programme dedicated to mental health and higher education.
To join me in Dublin in September, REGISTER ONLINE
Nicola Byrom D.Phil