A new film is being premiered today to highlight the experiences of young people when dealing with their emotional wellbeing and mental ill health.
The film, which places young people centre stage, is designed to prompt discussion on the often taboo subject of mental health in the classroom, including finding the right language to discuss the issue and advice on how to seek support.
Mind. Your Language has been scripted and developed by young people from the Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill and representatives from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's (NSFT) youth council (16-19).
The film is structured in six short sections - presented almost exclusively by young people illustrated by personal stories – focusing on key areas such as the differing perceptions of emotional wellbeing and identifying where to go for help. It invites young people, teachers, parents and others to take up the subject as a talking point and to make simple pledges to tackle the stigma surrounding the subject.
The first public screening of Mind. Your Language is taking place at Haverhill Arts Centre on 19 April 2016 to an audience of young people, parents and teachers, plus representatives from Suffolk's public health team and NSFT who jointly commissioned the project.The Mental Health Foundation estimates that 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems, and while most children grow up mentally healthy, more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago
Councillor Tony Goldson, cabinet member for Health, said:
"Finding the language to express how they are feeling, while overcoming the perceived stigma around mental health, are just two of the challenges facing young people today. That's why this film takes a positive approach to empower young people to identify what support is available and to feel confident when discussing the subject.
We want this to be a resource for Suffolk schools to explore the language and stigma around the subject as a starting point for discussions both inside and away from the classroom."
The 2015 Girlguiding Girls' Attitudes survey found that over 80% of girls and young women aged 7-21 felt the adults around them didn't understand the pressures they were under, with issues such as bullying through social media, self-harming and mental illness top of the list of health concerns identified by the survey.
Councillor Gordon Jones, cabinet member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said: "I am delighted to announce the launch of this new film, Mind. Your Language, which I hope will be a valuable resource for Suffolk's schools. Young people's emotional wellbeing is particularly important – if the environment is not there to openly discuss mental ill health in earlier life, it can only contribute to continuing problems in later years.
This is one of the aims of our emotional wellbeing transformation plan, which sets the direction for our joint work to improve mental health services in Suffolk over the next five years and brings together partner organisations to support young people, children and families presenting with emotional, behavioural or mental health needs."
Emma Corlett, Young People Participation Lead with NSFT, said: "This fantastic project has given members of our Youth Council the chance to use their own experiences of mental ill health to bring about positive change and benefit others.
"Tackling the stigma around mental health while raising awareness of the help which is available within schools is one of our priorities, and we were delighted to be invited to take part in creating this valuable resource. We hope that Mind: Your Language makes a real difference to the emotional health and wellbeing of pupils from across Suffolk while also showing those who need extra support where they can go for help."
The film is available to view from 20 April at www.healthysuffolk.org.uk and will be shared widely throughout Suffolk schools.
To make a pledge to support others, or to encourage discussion around the issues highlighted in the film, visit http://www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/projects/mind-your-language/