It can sometimes feel difficult to know what a young person is thinking – and to get them to open up when they’re struggling. Sometimes, it’s better that advice and support comes from their peers, who might have a better idea of what they’re going through. That’s why Time to Talk Islington – a scheme funded by Cripplegate’s Young Grant Makers programme – teamed up with young people from New River College to produce two films aimed at helping young people manage their mental health.
The films see young people play out different scenarios, such as carrying anger from home into the classroom, and suggest ways you might manage them. “It’s all about empowering young people to make the right choices,” says Lottie Selwyn from Big Ideas, the educational organisation that worked with the school to deliver the films. “The fantastic young people at New River College have created a simple but powerful guide for their peers across Islington to start to look after themselves better.”
The young people, who are not currently in mainstream education, scripted, cast and acted in the films, as well as created the slogan have a talk, take a walk, but don’t run from your mental health. “It took courage for me to take part in this project,” says Neveah. “I get camera shy and I had to read out loud. But it wasn’t that bad, and my confidence levels went up.
“Acting out the different choices you can make is a good way to make mental health a subject young people can talk about. It’s a useful way for young people to think things through.”
The films will premiere at Islington secondary schools on Time to Talk Day, 1 February, alongside classroom activities and workshops on mental health. Ongoing resources signposting young people to support across the borough to organisations chosen by the young people will be available.
“We know the impact of the project on the young people involved as we interviewed them afterwards and they were proud of the work they have created and felt more confident as a result,” reports Lottie. “One of them told us that they use their own advice all the time to make better choices in difficult situations.”
Another student who was involved in the project alongside Neveah agrees. “I learned some practical things, such as how to work with scenarios and dialogue, and script writing,” he says. “Working through scenarios was a good problem-solving exercise. I think this is something which can help other young people make good choices. It shows you how to prioritise mental health. My message is to give young people the space and time they need to open up.”
To gain access to this free digital resource please email contact@big ideas.org
Young Grant Makers is a five-month programme that gives young people in Islington the power to choose how money is spent on youth services in Islington. For more information visit islingtongiving.org.uk