This post originally appeared on the International Association for Youth Mental Health conference website. I really would encourage you to register for the conference, or become a member of IAYMH.
Like many young people with a lived experience of mental ill-health, I wear several hats. I’m an advocate committed to improving the experience of the mental health system for people like me; by day, I work in health policy and I’m studying evaluation. Of all the conferences I’ve attended, IAYMH is by far the best conference where I feel like I’ve learnt as a professional and felt valued as a person with lived experience.
We will only improve mental health services and systems by using the wisdom of those with learned experience – researchers and professionals – but also the lived experience of having, or caring for someone with, mental ill-health. The IAYMH conference is really special because it embeds this idea throughout the event. Young people and mental health professionals are on a level footing.
As a young person who attended the 2015 conference in Montreal, this was really exciting for me. It was an incredible opportunity to learn about new research and programs operating in youth mental health across the world. I made friends with committed youth mental health superstars, and these networks continue to be vital in the advocacy work I do in Australia. Two years on, I’m still tweeting, chatting and even working with the people I met in Montreal.
For mental health professionals, the chance to meet young people with lived experience from around the globe provides incredible insights. The way that the opinions of young people are valued at IAYMH creates confidence and brings strength to the voice of young people and lived experience that I haven’t seen at any other mental health conference I’ve attended.
I can’t encourage you enough to get to Dublin and start meeting people!