Young people squash stigmas with social action

On World Mental Health Day in October, the Prime Minister announced that the Samaritans’ helpline is to remain free for the next four years with support from the government. The PM also announced the first Minister for Suicide Prevention in the UK as health minister Jackie Doyle-Price.

Over the summer and across the Country, social media and newspapers have been populated with stories about young people giving up their time and participating in social action projects. Many of these projects were centred around raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention – a topic which is clearly resonating with our young people.

From building life-sized statutes, performing a team-written poem to creating videos and hosting an open mic night, the young people, who participated on NCS, worked hard to address the challenges and barriers sounding mental health.

The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC) say that in an average class of 30, three could have a mental disorder, ten are likely to have witnessed their parents separate, one could have experienced the death of a parent, seven are likely to have been bullied and six may be self-harming.

While schools and colleges have guidance and policies in place, and councils like Cumbria County Council promote mental health and emotional wellbeing across Children and Young People, and Adult services, these statistics are quite alarming.

A recent piece of research conducted by the think tank Demos, found that two –thirds of young Britons see social media as an essential part of achieving social change – this was certainly reflected in the promotional efforts of the young people on NCS this summer.

There are certainly many negative aspects to social media usage with online bullying and trolling an example, but the use of social media channels to promote positive messages, debunk myths and erase stigma can and does work.

Looking at the Country’s statistics around mental health and suicide rates, they highlight the need for awareness and a robust system of practical help and support. Seeing our young people take a stand on these subjects and work towards providing help for others is humbling.

On Saturday 13th of October, we publicly acknowledged and celebrated the young people involved in these social action projects as well as all the 15-17 year olds who took part in NCS this summer and raised awareness and money for their chosen projects.

Around £10,000 was raised by these amazing group of people, NCS is a life changing experience for not only these young people but also their local communities too.