A free book of personal poetry has been written to commemorate the two-year anniversary of a project to shine a light on mental health issues experienced by young people.
Two years ago, HeadStart Hull volunteers – with help from Hull poet and BBC Audio Award Winner Vicky Foster – wrote a collection of poetry as part of the You Are Not Alone project.
The poems were recorded and edited into soundscapes before being played through speakers at locations in Hull identified by the group as having high suicide rates.
Now, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, the poems have been collected and published in a book which can now be downloaded for free.
The book, illustrated by HeadStart volunteer Kaitlyn Robson, will be given to every young person who accesses HeadStart Hull’s counselling service and Emotional Resilience Coach service.
Following the digital release, a physical launch is planned to take place and it is hoped a limited printed stock will be available to purchase at selected outlets in the city.
Gail Teasdale, HeadStart Hull programme manager said, “This book launch is the culmination of a long-term campaign led by HeadStarters – young volunteers who give their free time to develop and deliver campaigns which impact on young people’s lives.
“The young people involved have done an excellent job in raising awareness of the issue and the support available in a creative and sensitive way, which gives an important message to all whose lives have been impacted by suicide or who have had thoughts of suicide, that you are not alone.
Y.A.N.A is a book of powerful poetry written and illustrated by young volunteers as part of their suicide awareness campaign, and is now available to download free as part of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
— HeadStart Hull (@HeadStartHull) May 18, 2020
Volunteer Kaitlyn Robson said: “I have been a part of the You Are Not Alone process from the start and it has had a huge impact on helping to reduce the stigma around mental health and suicide in Hull.
“Instead of asking something like ‘You’re not going to do anything silly are you?’, professionals now feel confident to ask direct questions such as ‘Are you feeling suicidal?’, and that in itself could be lifesaving.
“Not only has the You Are Not Alone campaign had a huge impact on the community, I have had a lot of personal growth from it. I made stronger friendships, built on passion for ending the stigma around mental health and suicide and helping people realise they are not alone and they can get professional help.”
The book and audio version is available to download for free here.