This week is the Week of Action, an event that was organised by Rochdale Borough Youth Cabinet. It is a chance for young people to learn about mental health, and mental health issues through a session planned and delivered by young people.
Before we get into that, however, I feel that it is important to tell you why we are doing what we are doing. Mental health issues affect one in four people, with stress and social media bringing a rise in mental health issues in our generation. Furthermore, many people do not realise that everyone has mental health. Therefore, we feel that it is important to show to people the fact that everyone has mental health, as well as remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Mental health has been a long running campaign in the Borough of Rochdale, and it is one that I am honoured to work on. As the MYP for BoR, I was elected in February with one of my manifesto points being mental health. Additionally, Mental health was the number one issue in the borough in the Make Your Mark ballot, showing how important the young people in Rochdale feel that mental health is.
In response to this, the Youth Cabinet began to plan the Week of Action. There are two main aims of this week. The first aim is to raise awareness of mental health: for many this is the understanding that everyone has mental health, and therefore should take measures to take care of it; and to make people empathetic to those who have mental health issues, who may need extra help to do things that people see as ‘easy, everyday tasks’. The other aim is to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health. We, as the Youth Cabinet, do not feel that any work regarding mental health can be hailed a success if people feel shame in accessing the services. Until we remove the stigma surrounding mental health, we cannot expect people to seek help and talk about their struggles.
In preparation for the week of action, members of the youth cabinet gathered support from Rochdale Borough Council by getting councillors to sign a pledge. We were surprised and deeply grateful to see such a large amount of support from the Councillors, with an astonishing number of them signing our pledge. This shows that many of the councillors feeling that mental health is an area that should be improved and is vital to our society.
Throughout this week, members of the Rochdale Borough Youth Cabinet are going to be delivering sessions to young people to raise awareness of mental health. This session had be designed by young people for young people. Whilst tackling some tough issues, the session manages to be light-hearted and fun. It shows young people how mental health issues can ‘hold people back’ from doing everyday tasks, whilst simultaneously introducing them to mindfulness which will help them to look after their mental health.
Follow what we are doing this week by following us on twitter @cabinet_rys and #FreeTheMind