Teenagers from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim have created a resource pack for youth workers to help tackle mental health issues amongst young people.
Concerned by mental health issues amongst their peers, a group of 10 young people aged 15-17 got together in September 2016, and after an eight-week awareness project with the Education Authority (EA) Youth Service, formed Oblivion Mental Health Group.
The group has continued to meet over the past year and has produced a campaign and resource pack for youth clubs which includes a six-week project for youth workers to deliver to young people to raise awareness of mental health issues.
“These resources will be of great benefit to youth leaders and young people and I would like to commend the Oblivion Mental Health Group who recognised the importance of this issue and responded in a practical and positive way,” said EA’s Head of Youth Service Arlene Kee.
“Having developed their knowledge of mental health issues, the Oblivion group wanted to do something to promote the mental wellbeing of young people and applied to the EA’s ‘Hands On’ funding scheme to create a range of resources to support any young person who may be having mental health issues.”
The resource pack includes coloured wristbands for youth club members and youth leaders who can talk about mental health, tangle toys for stress relief, posters, a wallet-sized card with contacts and websites to access support, as well as the youth leaders’ project pack.
Connor O'Rawe of the Oblivion group said that mental wellbeing is a major issue for young people: “As the group evolved and we learned more about symptoms and how to identify them, it became clear that mental health issues were affecting large numbers of young people. Every member of the group had either been affected or knew someone who had been affected.
“It is important that young people talk about any issues they are having which is why we have developed the coloured wristbands which say ‘mental health is not taboo, it’s okay not to be okay’.
“The youth leaders’ project should help young people identify mental health conditions, understand how to provide support to those who are suffering, and stress the importance of personal self-care.”
The campaign and resource pack was launched on Monday 27 November 2017 in the Long Gallery, Stormont. Councillors, MLAs, youth workers, teachers and other professionals who work with young people attended the event.