Today, Time to Change kicks off a four year campaign to encourage young people to be more open to the topic of mental health and to be in their mate’s corner. With 1 in 10 young people fighting a mental health problem in any given year, the campaign, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is asking young people to “step in” to support their friends.
Time to Change has been working with young people (11-18) since 2011 in thousands of secondary schools across England to create a more open and supportive culture around mental health. As well as providing tailored lesson plans, young people with experience of mental health problems are trained and supported to share their stories in a school setting.
The launch of ‘In Your Corner’ marks the next phase of Time to Change’s work with young people and has been developed following research carried out by the campaign over the last year. This new insight revealed that whilst awareness of mental health issues is improving, understanding is still poor in this age group. It also showed that young people have a strong impulse to help and support a friend who might be struggling.
The campaign highlights that you don’t have to be an expert to be in your mates’ corner and has launched a series of short, high-impact films, each focusing on different steps that young people can take to be there for a friend struggling with their mental health:
- Reach out. A text or call goes a long way
- Listen don’t judge
- Do something together
- Be there
- Do small acts
Nikki Mattocks (19) from Croydon who has borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, said: “If I didn’t have my friends I wouldn’t be where I am today. They never pretended to know the answers. They helped me realise that I didn’t need to be fixed.
“If you’re worried about your friend’s mental health, talk to them. You don’t need to put on a show or buy them something expensive, your friendship is what they need. The little things make the biggest difference like tagging them in a funny meme, sending them a GIF, buying them their favourite drink, inviting them out, texting them if you notice they haven’t been at school, college, or work. It’s the little things that remind people they aren’t alone.”
Nikki’s friend, Carys Lambert (20), said: “I remember Nikki not being in school for a long time. I was told that she was on holiday and then one day she called me and told me that she was hearing voices. I just said to her that it didn’t make a difference to me, I didn’t think of her any differently and that I was always going to be there for her. I would always try and make her laugh. Whether that’s reminding her of a funny memory or sending her a silly picture. It’s about making time for someone, giving them the space to talk and lending a friendly ear without judgement.”
As well as taking steps to be there for a friend, everyone is being encouraged to share the new films. To find out more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk
Time to Change will be providing ‘In Your Corner’ campaign materials, including posters and films to 800 secondary schools, building on the campaign’s existing work with staff and pupils across the country. Others will be urged to get involved via the campaign website which will host downloadable resources included posters and lesson plans. The campaign is also providing advice and information to parents on how to support their children to be a good mate.
Jo Loughran, Director of Operations at Time to Change, said: “Mental health problems are common, affecting three children in an average classroom. When young people are struggling with their mental health, negative reactions from others can make things much harder and prevent them from doing everyday things that are part of teenage life, such as going out with friends and attending school.
“We know that friendship groups are incredibly important in young people’s lives and that friends are in an ideal position to look out for each other’s mental health. Through this campaign we hope to show that you don’t have to be an expert to be there for a friend. It doesn’t have to be difficult or awkward – there are some simple things everyone can do that can make all the difference.”
Previous research carried out by Time to Change into young people’s experiences of mental health problems showed:
- 9 out of 10 young people experienced negative treatment from others because of their mental health problem(s).
- When asked about the impact of negative reactions to their mental health problem, 54% said it stopped them hanging out with friends; 40% said it stopped them going to school and the same number said it stopped them having a relationship (40%)
- 49% said the fear of stigma (how people think and act about mental health) had prevented them telling their family about their mental health problem and 71% said it had stopped them telling their friends.
You can watch the new campaign films, here:
Be in your mate’s corner: just reach out:
Be in your mate’s corner: listen, don’t judge:
You might also be interested in our webinar on how to support a friend and our leaflet ‘How to Ask for Help’ which talks students through how to have the first conversation, or support a friend in doing so, if they’re worried about their mental health. It’s available as a leaflet (we’ll send you them for free) or a PDF (follow the link for both).
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the Time To Talk campaign and to hear what successes (or barriers) you’ve had / faced encouraging students to support one another. Please leave a comment.
I’ll be discussing the topic on Sky News at 9.30am, March 9th.