Pioneering pop up mental health awareness event is such a success it is being rolled out to more schools in Cambridgeshire
PUBLISHED: 12:21 08 February 2018
A group that encourages people to talk openly about mental health, says its first event to help city teenagers was such a success, it plans to host more for young people across the region.
The pop up mental health awareness event was hosted by Talking FreELY, in partnership with Ely College and Bishop Laney Sixth Form.
The event was open to everyone and attracted a big audience, especially teenagers and their parents. The highlight was a talk by the renowned and inspirational mental health campaigner Natasha Devon.
Natasha said: “We teach children to eat their veg, get fresh air, do exercise, not because they are poorly but because it is beneficial for everyone.
“I’d like to see the mental health model look a bit more like that. We keep hearing that one in four people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, but four in four people have a brain and therefore a mental health.
“Mental illness amongst young people is rising at alarming rates, more so than in any other age group.”
Anthony Sigrist, chief executive and founder of Talking FreELY, said: “We consider that engaging young people in a safe, honest conversation about mental health is being critical to tackling a long term problem that permeates our entire society.”
Held in Ely College, it featured a pop-up café where the sixth formers had an opportunity to talk with students who had been trained as ‘talking volunteers’.
There were also different zones where the sixth formers could explore topics such as art therapy, the effects of lack of sleep on mental health and mental health in sports.
There was also a presentation by 16-year-old guest speaker, Mia, who said: “When you have mental health issues you often become secretive and not yourself.
“Look out for your friends. Remember, you are not responsible for them but just ask them how they are.”
Talking FreELY was launched in July 2017. It is being supported by Nationwide building society in the city whose staff are raising money for them.
Talking FreELY plans to work with three other schools in Eastern Cambridgeshire to inspire and encourage young people to talk about their mental health and contribute to removing the stigma associated with it.