Concerns about mental health in Horsham's young people: 100 students sign letter calling for better support

More than 100 Horsham students have signed a letter calling for better mental health support for young people in the district.

The letter has been written by 16-year-old Collyer’s student Alex Wilkie, who delivered it to MP Jeremy Quin. She said young people had been hit hard by recent events, and she wants Mr Quin to champion her cause for more funding. The MP said he was looking forward to meeting with her.

The chief medical officer at the NHS trust responsible for delivering mental health support has also spoken out about the issue. Read more here.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Alex said: “We just want him to listen to what we have to say.

Alex Wilkie right) and her friends Alysha and Kinga have signed a letter by around 100 students calling for better mental health support for young people in Horsham.

“When some of these campaigns happen quite a lot of the time it’s just pushed about until people actually get together and do something.”

Alex said she had suffered with poor mental health herself early last year but when she tried to access support she was left waiting months before she could get counselling.

She added: “I think mental health services are really, really underfunded.

“I was just having a bit of a tough time. It was the start of lockdown and I think quite a few people were feeling the same. I didn’t get an appointment until I think it was October, November time.”

Alex Wilkie pictured with her father Andrew.

In the letter to Mr Quin, Alex wrote: “People of all ages have been hit hard by the coronavirus, but we have been impacted at a crucial point in our lives.

“The institutions that are supposed to look after us are overwhelmed, underfunded and, as a result, are failing.

“We have so many ways of communicating with each other but we feel powerless. We cannot express our opinions at elections and our voices simply aren’t being heard.”

In response, Mr Quin said: “Even before Covid made it even more important, significant extra resources were being devoted to improve mental health first aid and specialist support. It is vital this comes through on the frontline. I regularly to talk local service providers about how this is being delivered and recognise the work that needs to be done. I have responded to Alex direct and very much look forward to meeting her.”

The College of Richard Collyer says numbers of students with mental health issues have increased over the past decade.

A spokesperson at Collyer’s said mental health and wellbeing was very important for all schools and colleges.

“Education professionals have witnessed an increase in student mental health issues over the past decade and indeed, the pandemic has presented enormous challenges for all our young people. At Collyer’s, student wellbeing is a priority and is central to our college vision.

“We have significantly expanded our wellbeing provision in response to the needs of our young people in the last five years and offer a comprehensive range of support, including; 1-1 mentoring, mindfulness, short courses focused on development of strategies for managing mental health issues such as anxiety, online self-help resources and an onsite counselling service.

“Our dedicated staff work incredibly hard to ensure students receive the help that they need and we work closely with external services to signpost and refer young people into specialist provision, which is a really important part of supporting young people’s mental health needs locally.”

To see Alex’s petition visit more information about mental health support and resources click here.