MORE than 3,000 people have signed a petition set up by a Gwent mental health group calling for young people to be given more of a say in metal health services.

As part of World Mental Health Day yesterday, Wednesday, a group of service users, volunteers and staff from Changing Minds visited the Senedd to hand over the petition calling for public bodies to be required to consult with young people when commissioning mental health services.

Changing Minds is a Gwent-wide mental health support project run by Newport Mind and supports people aged between 14 and 25 experiencing mental health problems.

David Hopkins of Newport Mind was on hand at yesterday's event, where the petition was handed over the Welsh Assembly's Petitions Committee

He said: "When we started this project five years ago the young people we spoke to make it really clear they wanted a say in what was going on and the services they were using.

"When we looked around at public bodies we found there wasn't much consultation with young people. If young people wanted to make a suggestion there wasn't much opportunity for them to do so."

But, although the scheme was set up five years ago with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, its future is unclear, as this runs out next month.

Mr Hopkins said: "This is a service which is used by around 1,000 people per year across Gwent.

"It's the sort of early intervention they need. It's a project that has young people at its heart and is in great demand. We are a registered charity so we have to think about our finances.

"We are trying really hard to find a way to keep going."

The petition was handed over to Petitions Committee chairman and South Wales East AM David Rowlands who said: "It's an issue of national importance.

"I thank them for bringing it to our attention and I look forward to bringing it forward."

Through Changing Minds, support workers based in Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly work with young people and help them support each other as a peer group.

It was set up following research showing young people were not comfortable with discussing mental health issues with teachers, social workers or doctors.

The petition will go before the Petitions Committee on Tuesday, October 23.