We attended this Leeds Mind event at Civic Hall on Tuesday 26th September. This event represented the Child Friendly Leeds ambition perfectly by putting youth voice at the centre of the discussion.
Young people were in the planning group for the event and it was clear they had prioritised making it a very welcoming, safe space. The whole set-up was very youth-led and the audience was mainly made up of children and young people.
When you arrived, there were tables set up with a variety of activities on offer, all with a theme of mental health and mindfulness. You could make glitter jars, essential oil roll-ons or share coping strategies to be featured in a book. Even the music had been carefully planned, with sets from two local, young DJs being played. Before you took your seat, there was also an exhibition of artwork and poetry to explore.
In total, there were 7 young speakers, including the host, who took to stage in the iconic banquet hall. Each had their moment to tell us about their mental health journeys. They presented in whatever way felt right for them, with one young person putting their thoughts into song.
One young speaker, called Daniel, spoke about the culturally diverse offer from Leeds Youth in Mind, which serves children from Year 6 up to the age of 25. He shared his own experience receiving support from a therapist from the same cultural background as him, and how important this was to the effectiveness of the support. He also stressed the need for flexibility in the support we offer to young people, ensuring that there aren’t long, costly journeys to be made. Or, making sure a technological-based offer is there for children if they prefer it.
Jodie had needed mental health support during her university studies and had used the Marketplace service. She called for better marketing of these services to reach a wider audience as she has met others who have been unaware of what’s out there.
Interestingly, the majority of the young speakers championed a peer mentorship approach. They explained they had worried they were the only person who had ever felt this way, expressing how that feeling is alleviated through talking to peer mentors who have experience working through their own poor mental health.
Leeds Mind is a charity based in Horsforth that helps people to access mental health support. Children from Year 6 age, to the age of 25, can access counselling services through their ‘Youth in Mind’ programmes. This programme was launched a year ago and was developed with the support of the Leeds Mind Young People Steering Group. A group which includes young people who have previously accessed Mental Health support through Leeds Mind and want to help shape the support offer going forward.
If you are an organisation reading this, Leeds Mind also work on the ‘Mindful Employer’ initiative which is all about making sure you protect the mental health of your employees. According to the ‘Safeguarding Network’, around one third of children and young people live with a parent with poor mental health, which can impact the children’s own wellbeing and development. Therefore, protecting adults’ mental health, protects their children’s mental health and vice versa.