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Students get young people talking about mental health

A week of activities to raise awareness of mental health, organised entirely by students, saw over 200 City College Norwich students make mental health pledges and got many more talking about the issue.

The series of events, held in the StartUp Lounge at the college last week, was organised by four groups of Health & Social Care and Health Studies students.

Highlights included the pledge wall (where students added their own personal pledges to the 95,000 that have been made through the national ‘Time to Change’ campaign), a ball pit, mindfulness room, cake sales, colouring competitions and games.

The impact of young people talking to their peers about mental health was vividly illustrated when one student gave a talk about her experiences of mental health problems and how she has worked to overcome these, which left many members of the student audience visibly moved by her honesty and courage. 

There was also a confession tree where people anonymously shared their mental health experiences, as a way to let others know that they are not alone in facing mental health challenges.

As well as getting their peers talking about the topic of mental health, the students also raised over £200 for mental health charities Mind and Julian Support. 

Health & Social Care student Sarah Brett, 16, from Attleborough, commented:

“We want students to know that there is support and that they are not alone in what they are feeling and what they are thinking.  It’s not just them that’s having to deal with this, other people are too.”

Fellow Health & Social Care student Charley Perry, 17, from Thetford, said:

“It’s so students know that they can talk to anyone, family, people who are close to them, they can talk to friends and know that they are not going to get judged for it.”

Charlie Cox, 16, from Attleborough, added:

“Mental health is not something to be embarrassed about.  It’s just an illness like any other illness.  People talk about physical illnesses all the time, like a cold, but no-one says I’m having trouble with my anxiety.”  

Liz Alden, Health & Social Care and Health Studies lecturer, said:

“This project came about because the students have to look at promoting anti-discriminatory practice as part of their course and they chose to focus on the issue of mental health awareness.  The students did really well and they have learnt many skills such as communication, teamwork, interacting with other students, and planning and preparing an event.  It was great to see so many young people engaging with the topic of mental health through some really fun, imaginative and effective activities.”