Young people in West Sussex have achieved national recognition for creating a campaign aimed at improving mental health services for their peers.
The Free Your Mind Campaign, supported by West Sussex County Council Young People’s Service, has been awarded the Community Impact Award for the most sustainable project in the Positive for Youth Awards.
Positive for Youth is an initiative created to empower and unlock potential in our future leaders across the UK. The awards were developed with a focus on recognising outstanding contribution to community, media, arts and performance, encouraging collaboration and sharing of best practice.
Free Your Mind, a social action campaign run by West Sussex young people for young people, aims to challenge stigma, taboo and stereotypes and improve mental health services for their peers.
Founded by West Sussex Youth MP Kai Moore in 2013, the campaign has grown to include young people from a range of groups throughout West Sussex, including service users.
A key achievement of the campaign is improved access to mental health information via the West Sussex Your Space website. Young people planned and delivered a countywide conference for service users, influencing the redesign of Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services as a result. Most recently, young people from the campaign were part of an interview procurement panel for counselling and advocacy services.
Their work was showcased at the award ceremony in London earlier this month.
They were presented with their trophy by Sacha Corcoran MBE, Principal of Big Creative Academy, which aims to improve the lives of young people through high quality training and creative industry experiences. The team were invited to spend a day at Big Creative Academy in London, making a promotional film using the organisation’s cutting edge film and recording facilities.
Abigail Reeves, 17, from Horsham, said: “When we collected the trophy, I spoke about how Free Your Mind has helped me with my depression and anxiety. This was a first for me, and I managed the challenge of going stage and speaking in public without having a panic attack. I was petrified but overcame my fear. It feels good having done it. I’ve been part of this from the beginning, all the way to hosting a convention, and now winning an award. It’s helped me so much as a person, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities!”
West Sussex County Council Cabinet member for Children – Start of Life Peter Evans said: “This is such an important subject – the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. I am very proud of the team who created this campaign and won the well-deserved award.”
For further information:
Pandora Ellis - Project and Partnerships Manager
West Sussex Young People’s Service
‘Inspiring Young People to make a difference’
Photos show members of the Free Your Mind team at the Awards Ceremony left to right:
128 Abigail Reeves, Dominic Marks, Stephen Gearing