We recently spoke to Annie Goldspink- Collie, who is a Paediatric Rheumatology Nurse at Raigmore Hospital, about what needs to change so we are better equipped as a society to support young people living with chronic conditions.  

"Yes, our young people have JIA or other conditions but that does not define them.

They are aspiring Boxers, Athletes, Paediatric Nurses, Paramedics, Primary school teachers, Actors, Joiners- to name just a few of their chosen careers. 

What they need is the recognition that Arthritis isn't a disease solely for the old, which sadly is still something that we hear time and time again. The medical advances in treatments mean that they can achieve their dreams once we have the condition in remission. Of course, from point of diagnosis to remission can be a tricky journey to negotiate and is full of physical and emotional challenges for all the family, for example accepting weekly, fortnightly injections, regular blood tests, infusions, joint injections etc. The impact of missing school not only from an education perspective but also from a social one. The fatigue that is often felt by the teenager that burns the candles at both ends, the fear of not achieving to the best of their ability in exams because their hands are sore from writing and they are in the middle of a flare. The disappointment of having to recommence treatment, not long after stopping- and the uncertainty of what this means in the future. 

No young person is the same, some are happy to share their diagnosis with friends, teachers etc, others are worried about how they will be viewed by their peers as they don't want to be seen as different. Teapot Trust helps our young people negotiate this journey, allowing them to explore the challenges that they face, some may be solely referred to help with acceptance of a diagnosis and treatment, others to help the young person cope with the additional pressures that impact their mental health along with a rheumatological condition. What’s great about the work that Teapot Trust art therapist, Nicola, undertakes is that it can be as diverse as the young person themselves and it's not 1 approach that fits all. The care our families get via the work Nicola does really is holistic and improves the wellbeing of our children and their families."