Skip to content

“It’s really important for politicians to engage young people and this starts with more youth-centred policies”

We hear from Anna Freud young champion Grace about the general election campaign so far, and the changes she wants the next government to make.


“I turn 18 in November, so I’m gutted I missed out on the chance to vote - I’m really interested in politics, in part due to my experience of mental ill health. I have an anxiety disorder and have been treated for depression and OCD. This means I’ve personally seen issues with specialist mental health services and children and young people waiting to access support.

“I think it’s been interesting to see the views of all political parties on young people during the general election campaign and there have been some policies I welcome. However, I’ve not seen as much as I would have liked from any particular party for young people, and it feels like none of them are really speaking to us.

“The main thing I’d like the next government to do is tackle waiting lists for children and young people’s mental health services. I had to really self-advocate for support and prove the extremity of my illness, which was so harrowing. I was in a moderate stage where I wasn’t quite ill enough to receive high intensity care, but I was too ill to receive more low-level care. This is a gap lots of people fall into which can become more severe if left untreated.

“I would also like to see more services in the community. My nearest NHS trust is quite far from where I live, and I need to travel for an hour to get mental health support. We need more on a local level and for mental health support to be rolled out more widely in schools too.

“It’s really important for politicians to engage young people and this starts with more youth-centred policies. Turn–out for 18–24–year–olds tends to be low in UK elections, and I think this is because there’s not enough focus on this age group. It’s a vicious cycle where we’re not represented, so we don’t vote and then nothing changes. We are the future generation and in ten years’ time we’re going to be making up more of the electorate, so why not include us?”

Find out more

Anna Freud is a mental health charity and we’ve been supporting children and young people for over 70 years. We listen to and learn from their diverse voices, and integrate this with learnings from our science and practice to develop and deliver mental health care.

Grace is not alone in her experience of the UK’s specialist mental health services and we want the gap in children and young people’s mental health to be closed through a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention. We have outlined ways the next government can do this through our Thinking Differently manifesto, including developing a unified prevention strategy with children and young people.

While Anna Freud welcomes a number of announcements from all parties – including more mental health support in schools and communities – we believe more attention needs to be paid to building the mental health and well–being of children and young people.