A new mental health campaign designed by HeadStart Hull’s young volunteers will launch on Tuesday 27 March with a creative and emotive soundscape over the Humber Bridge.
HeadStart is an exciting five-year national £56 million National Lottery funded programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, from which Hull has secured £7.8 million. Young people aged between 12 and 20 from across the city, some of whom have had their own personal struggles, 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 other children and young people who may be suffering from low self-esteem and poor emotional health, and may be 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.
The You are not alone project has been designed to raise awareness of the mental health challenges young people face as they grow into adulthood and the support that is available. It explores how young people with a passion to improve access to mental health support, improving wellbeing and emotional resilience as well as tackling difficult topics such as suicide and its stigma, can express themselves by evoking thoughts through an emotive artistic approach.
Twelve speakers along the west walkway of Humber Bridge will provide creative soundbites with positive messages from young people to reach those most in need. It will run until 17 April and other times during the year to coincide with national campaigns, while there are plans to install the soundscape in other locations. 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.
Gail Teasdale, programme lead for Headstart Hull, 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 stigma associated with mental health and suicide, influencing decisions and raising awareness.
“The HeadStarter volunteers 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 Benjamin Waudby, aged 18, were among a small group of Headstarter volunteers who developed the idea and wanted to do something positive.
Benjamin Waudby, said: “Young people’s mental health and wellbeing are neglected in society and it’s time to fix that.”
Kaitlyn Robson, 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.”
Mark Jones, sound designer, said: “The group wanted to create an artistic approach, by having speakers on the bridge to diffuse reassuring messages to support the wellbeing of their peers. This has meant we can raise awareness that it’s okay to not be okay and that there is support out there for those of us experiencing challenging times. Vicky and I are really proud, equally for the written work of the group, standards of performance, and the sounds they’ve come up with.”
Information on the campaign will also be available at the Humber Bridge Tourist Information Centre. The Humber Bridge Board has fully supported the campaign. Chief executive Dr Kevin Moore said: ‘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 and resilience 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. Parents can also receive peer mentoring and group work support. Services can currently be access through referrals from schools or young people’s community based services, where staff have received training on how to support young people and parents to access these services.
HeadStart Hull is encouraging young people to find an adult they trust, for example a teacher or school pastoral staff, a youth worker, or school nurse and talk to them about their worries and any help they may need. They can also access the Turn to Us drop-ins, which are run by youth workers in every secondary school and are open access.
From Tuesday 27 March, young people and parents can now refer themselves for support from any of the HeadStart Hull targeted/targeted plus projects.
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. This website has been designed in partnership with young people who have checked the content to ensure it is relevant to young people. There will also be credit-card-sized information leaflets distributed across the city, which contain useful numbers and websites where young people can access information, advice and support.