A new mental health campaign designed by young volunteers from Hull to help their peers has been launched today (27 March) with a creative and emotive soundscape along the Humber Bridge.
HeadStart is a five-year, £56 million programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund. Young people aged between 12 and 20 from across the city, some of whom have had their own personal struggles with depression and low self-esteem, have developed the idea.
With support from local published poet Vicky Foster and sound designer Mark Jones, the young people have produced inspirational messages and poems to tackle the taboo of mental health. It is also about reaching out to other children and young people who may be suffering from emotional issues, and maybe having a hard time talking about their feelings. They want all young people to know that even in difficult times when they can feel at their most isolated, “you are not alone”.
Twelve loudspeakers along the Humber Bridge will provide creative soundbites with positive messages from young people to reach those most in need from today and will run until 17th April. It will provide a unique listening experience for those who walk across the Bridge’s 2,220-metre span – which is the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world that it is possible to cross by foot or on cycle.
Gail Teasdale, programme lead, said: “Headstart Hull is about building young people’s emotional resilience and encourage them to talk about their problems before they develop into anything more serious. This ‘You are not alone’ campaign is all about challenging the stigmas, influencing decisions and raising awareness.
“The HeadStarters want all of Hull’s children and young people to know that they are not alone, that people care, that help is available, and that with time and support, they can overcome their issues and experience good times again.”
Kaitlyn Robson, aged 15, and Ben Waudby, 18, both pupils at Malet Lambert School in Hull, are among a small group of Headstarters who developed the idea and wanted to do something positive.
Ben said: “Young people’s mental health and well-being are neglected in society, and it’s time to fix that.”
Kaitlyn said: “I wanted to do this campaign as I’m passionate about mental health and I think this campaign is a creative way to make a difference.”
The Humber Bridge Board has fully supported the campaign. Chief Executive Dr Kevin Moore says: “We are very pleased to support this excellent project, which highlights and responds to the important issue of mental health in our communities. The young people involved are to be commended for their passion, creativity and hard work.”
HeadStart promotes positive emotional health and wellbeing, aimed at children and young people and their families to develop skills to cope with life challenges. It provides an appropriate early help response through targeted interventions for young people aged 10 to 16. The services include a range of support for young people including peer mentors, group work, counselling and resilience coaches. There is also peer mentoring and group work support for parents. Services can currently be accessed via referrals from schools or young people’s community based services, where staff have received training.
To find out more about the services available and how to contact them, go to www.howareyoufeeling.org.uk and click on the ‘who can help’ section.