Swanlea School pupils launch mental health campaign

Students from "I AM ME" campaign vide

“I AM ME” video campaign. IAR Media

A group of students from Swanlea School has joined together to launch the ‘I Am Me’ campaign. The campaign highlights the growing concern about mental health amongst young people.

Led by The Mile End Community Project, students collaborated with the creator of a mini comedy series ‘Corner Shop Show’ Islah Abdur Rahman, and actor Michael Truong. In an after school club, which ran for 10 weeks, students learnt how to storyboard and to produce video content. They also attended acting and filming workshops.

The film was screened last Thursday in a private preview. It was attended by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets as well as members from Tower Hamlets Public Health, volunteers from the Samaritans, and an NHS Psychologist. Speaking to the Hackney Gazette, Mayor John Biggs said: “We have some of the country’s highest levels of mental health problems in Tower Hamlets, so it’s great seeing our school pupils sharing and portraying perceptions of mental health at such a young age.”

It is estimated that around one in ten children and young people aged five to 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. With evidence suggesting mental health issues amongst the young are rising, campaigners wonder is enough being done to support those affected?

Brenda Landers, Headteacher at Swanlea School, describes mental health as the “one of the last medical taboos…it’s something that families and individuals are often ashamed to talk about”.

Last week Theresa May issued governmental plans to tackle the “stigma” around mental illness and “transform” the mental health landscape with extra resources, funding and training.

In a speech made on January 9 to the Charity Commission, the Prime Minister stated her aim to “transform the way we deal with mental illness in this country at every stage of a person’s life.” She added: “This starts with ensuring that children and young people get the help and support they need and deserve – because we know that mental illness too often starts in childhood.”

In an article written for the Huffington Post, Theresa May said: “Mental health problems are everyone’s problem. As a society we must face up to that fact. And the announcements I am making today will ensure we do just that.”

It is claimed an extra £15 million will be put towards mental health resources as well as new training and awareness initiatives for schools and teachers; strengthening the ties between educational and medical institutions. It is believed the Prime Minister is also set to tackle the damaging role social media can play in the welfare of young people.

On the same day, the government accepted the recommendations in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health put forward by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the charity MIND.

In response to the positive acknowledgement made by the government, Paul Farmer commented: “The key now is in the delivery. The reality today is that many people with mental health problems just aren’t getting the service and support they desperately need. We know that things won’t change overnight but we do need to see urgent progress and a sustained commitment to making mental health a priority across all government departments.”


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