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Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week, a time dedicated to shining a spotlight on and raising awareness about the significance of mental wellbeing. This year’s theme is anxiety, and we’re pleased to be supporting Islington Giving and partners in making a positive difference on mental health in Islington. Here, we share some stories and experiences from young people in Islington who are benefitting from transformative local programmes at the Stuart Low Trust and Brandon Connect.
“Life as a young person is incredibly difficult. But there is help out there.”
Bela*, a Brandon Centre Young Ambassador, had 20 sessions with an Integrative Psychotherapist at Brandon Centre, a local charity which supports young people to get help with personal problems from specialists who are professionally trained. Bela shares her journey through therapy and her advice to young people who may be struggling with their mental health:
“What was helpful for me was having someone to open up to without feeling judged. I felt validated all the time. Just being provided with a safe space. I was able to learn tools to deal with emotions and flashbacks, to use these tools in a healthy way to improve life. I’m doing much better now. It was 6 months of constant support. One hour a week looks quite small but it helped, it was incredible. The tools provided me new ways of thinking to help me. I found it all very empowering.
My advice would be to never give up. Life as a young person is incredibly difficult. But there is help out there. Know you are not alone. Surround yourself with people who you can vent to without being judged, uplifting and positive people. Healing can be incredibly hard, but the outcomes are worth it.”
“Therapy changed the way I think about most things, being able to talk has helped me not to get stuck on hopeless thoughts.”
Alex* is a young person who participated in the Brandon Connect programme with Geoffrey Baruch, Highly Specialist Project Clinician. Brandon Connect is a service funded by Islington Giving and Arsenal Foundation. It provides outreach and therapeutic support to 16- to 25-year-olds living in Islington, who have emotional and mental health difficulties that are a barrier to their education, employment, or training. Alex shares how Brandon Connect helped him overcome anxiety and his plan outside of the programme.
“I was afraid when I had to move schools of being in a completely different environment where I knew no one. I want to stress that the change of school was an enforced change, and not one I had wanted. Just being able to talk to a therapist about the move, getting affirmation that how I felt was normal and being reassured that it would work out was incredibly helpful and supportive. I don’t know whether I could have done it without the help of the weekly sessions.
Therapy changed the way I think about most things, being able to talk has helped me not to get stuck on hopeless thoughts, to keep myself going, without the help I would have dug myself into a hole. Most likely I would have stopped studying and would have withdrawn from friends and having any social life.”
“One of the great strengths of SLT is that it removes the barriers to engagement.”
“I had been in poor health and was feeling low. Attending the talks/ workshops gave me back a sense of purpose. It was great to engage with others, who were experiencing similar challenges and from then on I started to sign up for more activities with SLT.
Taking part in SLT activities has inspired my creativity, has fed into my sense of independence, has raised my self-confidence and self-esteem and promoted my self-advocacy. I feel that SLT’s approach is truly unique. One of the great strengths of SLT is that it removes the barriers to engagement. I have always felt valued as a participant at SLT and, as a result, I’ve found a creative outlet that has really made a difference to my quality of life.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Image: 1 & 2: Canva | Image 3: Body & Soul / Xuan Loc Xuan
At a time when mental health issues are on the rise, young people’s projects and services have never been more needed. Can you support Islington Giving in raising funds for transformative local projects like Brandon Connect and Stuart Low Trust? Your generosity has the power to make a lasting impact on mental health in Islington.