Think4Brum is a youth participation group made up of service users who use their experiences of being patients to help shape our mental health services (MHS). This inspiring group of young people have already contributed to significant and impactful change within our 0-25s mental health services, Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB).
The group works with our MHS teams to better our care for future service users. They have acted as a voice for young people by sitting in on interview panels, assisted with inpatient unit walkabouts and taken part in transformation projects such as assisting with suicide prevention training with the University of Birmingham.
Louna Walker, Co-Chair and Communications Lead for Think4Brum, talks about what it's like to be a part of the group.
"Think4Brum is a youth steering group full of experts with experience in various mental illnesses,” Louna said. “We are basically change makers, challenging the face of the mental health industry and trying to make a positive change and impact to help now and future generations of young people experiencing mental ill-health and crisis. Times are hard, and someone needed to step into a heroes' shoes, so we became them by turning our struggles into our superpowers.
"As members of Think4Brum, we take on various roles in the form of "Leads". We have a fantastic team consisting of an Engagement lead, Communications lead, Diversity and Inclusion lead, Art lead, and many more.
“We may be a small group, but we make big change. We have been involved in Takeover days, an ongoing evidence-based education (EBE) programme with BCU, ongoing work with Gymshark and psychology and philosophy research. We even had the opportunity for our members to be involved in the Tedx talks for Youth Brum.
“We have also been instrumental in new plans for building improvement and design to better the services across units, hospitals and hubs. One of our members, Zaynab Sohawon, had a huge impact on the new plans to transform Parkview clinic after sharing her opinions with our Chief Executive from her personal experience of staying there. Her voice has made a significant change, and this is just one of the fantastic things our members are doing.
"I got involved in Think4Brum out of chance and it's the best face of fate I've experienced. The universe led me to Think4Brum through my struggles, and just when I thought I could lose my passion and drive for helping others, I was introduced to this fantastic group of young people, and I truly found myself.
"I had been in and out of mental health services for most of my life, and when things got extremely difficult, I found myself in regular sessions to try and get myself back on top. It was then, after co-writing a newspaper article about social anxiety, my mental health nurse introduced me to Bob Maxfield, Participation and Engagement Lead and the incredible driving force that brings Think4Brum together. He quickly accepted me into this inspiring, motivational, and passionate group of human beings. I finally realised my so-called 'flaws' and 'darkness' had become my power and biggest asset, for, without it, I wouldn't be where I am today, just like the rest of the Think4Brum family.
"To get involved in Think4Brum, you just need to be you and be passionate about using your experiences in changing the way mental health services function. If you know or know a young person who wants to be involved, you can contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org, where you will be invited for a friendly chat to hear what we do and see what role you'd like to play with zero pressure. You can then join our meetings and get involved in any activities you feel you could help with. We also have a buddy system to help you whilst you're getting used to the team, so you can have a friendly face to be there should you feel nervous or unsure of things. We are a welcoming group and always get excited to work with new people who join our team."