Teens’ health film message

Steph Gore and Terri-Leigh Smith
Steph Gore and Terri-Leigh Smith

Young people came up with a creative way to deliver a message on mental health to their friends.

Members of Wigan Council’s Total Rethink youth group produced a short film called My Hidden Mind and an accompanying workshop pack for teachers and youth group leaders.

The packs were distributed to all schools in the borough and encouraged everyone to watch the film and try out one workshop exercises on World Mental Health Day this week.

Terri-Leigh Smith, 16, from Ince, said: “The film is a visual explanation of what it’s like living with a mental health disorder. A lot of people who don’t understand what mental ill health is sometimes judge, belittle or invalidate people who have mental illness, so we wanted to try and change that. And we wanted people with mental health disorders to remember that their illness doesn’t define them.”

Total Rethink youth group is open to all local 11 to 18-year-olds who might have an interest in mental health. The group is helping to influence the borough’s plans around mental health services for young people and is campaigning to change the perception of mental ill health.

Coun Jo Platt, portfolio holder for young people, added: “It’s fantastic that this group of young people have given up their free time to try to help others. Mental ill health is such an important issue and unfortunately something that many people struggle with today. I hope as many schools and youth groups as possible will take up the opportunity to show the film and use the resource.”

Last year more than 7,000 young people from Wigan and Leigh voted in a ballot run by the British Youth Council to say that improving mental health support for young people was one of the issues they were most concerned about.

Steph Gore, 18, from Wigan, said: “I think it’s hard to be a young person these days, there’s a lot to cope with. We hope that the film will encourage anyone who’s feeling stressed or sad to speak to someone about their worries. We want everyone to be comfortable in themselves and to try not to feel pressured to be what someone else wants them to be.”

Young people who want to join Total Rethink can email voiceandengagement@wigan.gov.uk