14 October 2022
Our Mental Health Amabassadors are reaching out into their communities and promoting a positive attitiude to mental health.
Everyone is talking about mental health. As a society, we are clocking on to how vital it is, and how fragile it can be. When we ask each other how we are, we’re aware that some (in truth, many of us) may be struggling with their mental health. How do we act, what do we do, what do we say? Where do we signpost people to and how do we bridge the gap between checking in on someone and exploring creative options that could actually help them? Do we suggest people, projects, a listening ear or just a bit of time in the fresh air? I’m Sedia Rogers, Oxfordshire Youth’s Mental Health Ambassador Coordinator and I’d like to introduce you to our Mental Health Ambassador project (MHA) – a place where young people can explore their own issues and engage others in the conversation.
Our MHA project, supported by The Prudence Trust, channels young people’s lived experience of mental health issues into new ways to reach out and support 11-to-17-year-olds. This project is for anyone aged between 18 and 25 who is interested in challenging the stigma surrounding mental ill health and has received support for their own health or has supported someone else. You may be from an ethnic minority group, or neurodiverse and have experience of depression and/or anxiety and opinions about what worked for you and what didn’t.
Sophie, is one of our brilliant Mental Health Ambassadors who have just delivered a session on ‘Wellbeing top tips’ from the toolkit they have been creating to a group at SOFEA. She had a great time, ‘I really enjoyed how different and relaxed this place was to a school and how one of the teenagers at first didn’t want to participate, but by the end of the presentation they were joining in!’.
Your voice matters and we would love to hear it and for you to be part of this project. As an ambassador you join interactive sessions designed to build your confidence, mental health resilience and leadership skills. You get to collaborate with sympathetic strangers, make friends and build a team to design and deliver different types of workshops including podcasts. You’ll be presenting to young people aged between 11 and 17, inspiring them to learn more about mental health and wellbeing and allowing them to reflect on and make a positive difference to their own mental health.
Mental Health Ambassador Fred (who is also on our Youth Awards Committee) is equally enthusiastic, ‘Presenting about something like mental health which everyone has and can relate to, is amazing. The thought that the young people we spend time with may have taken just one thing away from the day is a big win for me. Hearing that some young people engaged with us when they usually don’t makes me so happy. To be doing this is such a privilege’.
I’m always here to make sure that our ambassadors have everything they need to enjoy their experience with Oxfordshire Youth and MHA Eva’s experience hopefully shows that I’m doing a good job!
‘We get a lot of opportunities to be involved in various things from training, workshops and conferences, to photoshoots and podcasts. There’s always something fun to do and our coordinator Sedia makes sure there are lots of different opportunities for everyone! She is always eager to help and devotes time to each and every one of us (as a group and on a one-to-one level) which is quite reassuring and it’s nice to know she is always here for us’.
‘Always remember you matter, you’re important and you are loved, and you bring to this world things no one else can’ Charlie Mackesy
Oxfordshire Youth’s Mental Health Ambassadors programme is supported by The Prudence Trust.