The unique national charity Cerebra, which strives to improve the lives of children with brain-related neurological conditions, is calling for better care and services.

Cerebra supports, research, education and direct support for young people with a diverse range of mental health issues.

The charity believes that living with neurological conditions impacts not just on individuals but also wider family members.

More than 500,000 children in the UK live with a brain condition. Statistically this means everyone will know someone whose life has been affected by autism, ADHD, Down’s syndrome or one of many other conditions.

Autism must be shown as a mental health issue
kiri jolliffe, youth parliament

Cerebra has hosted conferences and events nationwide to raise awareness of conditions, such as Autism, to enable more people to recognise and understand symptoms.

Youth Parliament members are also currently researching issues relating to the transition of adolescence and adulthood, a better support system for those with mental health, the impact of illegal highs and the discrepancies in treatment of people of different ages.

Kiri Jolliffe, Youth Parliament and NCB member for Young People’s Advisory Group.

Autism is just a description
Professor stuart logan

Professor Stuart Logan, Cerebra Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology, The Institute of Health

At the events a variety of individuals also talk candidly about their personal experiences with mental illnesses.

Many parents report similar difficulties when caring for a child with Autism and other conditions such as lack of understanding from teachers within schools.

One mother gave an emotional account of how she is forced to home-school her son because of the lack of special schools for children with mental conditions.

Jack Welch, NCB Young People’s Advisory Group

The National Children’s Bureau is a leading charity focused on improving lives of children and young people.

Members attended the Cerebra event to highlight the work they do to support school children around the UK.


Dr Cathy Street, Research Director, NCB

Amber Derosa, Participation Officer for NCB, said: “Mental illness is such a pressing issue and how it affects people’s lives; whether people get bullied, it affects their educational attainment and their living situation.

“There are so many factors that link into young people’s mental health. We aim to get young people’s voices heard so that those who are experiencing these issues day to day can have a voice in these decisions that affect their lives.”

I self harmed and heard voices
mair elliot

Many speakers revealed how it is not too late to get help. Some welcomed the new research into mental health and Autism.

Speaker Mair Elliot, a mental health campaigner and a trustee for Hafal, shared her story on mental health and how she suffered with anxiety and depression.

“I self harmed, heard voices and thought people wanted to kill my family. I didn’t understand why I was different until I was diagnosed by a teacher with Autism when I was 15, and I started to understand myself a lot better. I managed to get help,” she said.

Examples of Autism Spectrum Behaviours:

  • Echoing words/phrases without context
  • Taking an adult to the biscuit tin rather than asking or pointing
  • Taking language too literally
  • Preference to play alone
  • Difficulty relating to other people
  • Not understanding other’s thoughts and emotions
  • Repetitive Behaviours: Hand flapping, toe walking, spinning wheels, lining up cars
  • Eating only yellow food
  • Insisting on walking the same route
  • Exceptional attention to detail
  • Sensory differences, this is most noticeable when children are over-sensitive to stimuli e.g. distress at loud noises
  • Trouble with co-ordination
  • Unusual eating behaviour such as only eating certain foods
  • Additional learning disabilities
  • A very small percentage have unusual abilities for example with music or memory