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The importance of engaging young people in healthcare

As part of the 'Engaging Young People in Healthcare' series, Chelsea shows the

importance of engaging young people in healthcare.

It is healthcare professionals’ jobs to take care of our health, both physically and mentally.

They help us manage our symptoms, find available treatment options, look after anything

related to our health. But another role they have is to engage us in our own healthcare.

Engaging young people in this way is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it gets us

involved in our own health. Considering it is our bodies that healthcare professionals are

looking after, it’s only fair that we should be involved. By engaging us, we will know the

importance of taking that medication, noting down when we feel certain symptoms, knowing

who to call depending on the situation, the list is endless.


If healthcare professionals don’t engage with young people successfully, then we won’t care about our own health

Secondly, by engaging with us, a bond will be developed, a relationship that helps us to feel

safe. In appointments, talking to someone who has created this bond with us feels more

comfortable because we feel cared for as an individual, not just because we are ill. It makes

us feel less alone and more supported and, crucially, it means our trust in you will build. That

allows us to discuss topics more freely and may even help us be open about our health

concerns. We will start to ask questions we may have initially felt awkward asking.


It helps knowing that the person we are confiding in is someone who really wants to help in more ways than one and supports us. It’s easy for healthcare professionals to say they care when they are managing our health, but it’s a different story in showing this care.

Thirdly, involving us young people in our own healthcare supports our well-being. Physical

health is linked to mental health, so when we keep on top of appointments, treatments, and

information, that also improves how we are feeling mentally. It is important for HCPs to look

out for signs of poor mental health and to ask us how we are feeling, as with rare disease, it

is constantly fluctuating, so it is important to check-in.


Lastly, engaging young people in our healthcare supports our understanding about our new

life navigating around rare disease and disability. It could help us figure out many things,

what our optimal goal is when it comes to our health, for example, and enable a discussion

about how to get there. It will let us brainstorm what we want and need from healthcare

professionals (such as additional resources) and think about things we’ve never considered

before, like our opinions and fears about treatment.


All these benefits from successfully engaging young people in their healthcare will improve

how we think of healthcare services and how we manage our own health.

 

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