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Young people talk about mental health challenges of the pandemic

30 July 2021

Young ambassadors for a Reading youth counselling service have produced a series of videos discussing mental health issues related to the pandemic.

No5 counselling service for children and young people has joined forces with Reading Borough Council and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) to make the short videos to offer support as we come out of lockdown.

The four young ambassadors from No5 have reflected on the past 16 months and what it has meant to them and described how they have managed to get through it.

In the videos, Tia talks about the difficulty of starting a new school during the pandemic and how she dealt with feelings of anxiety and lack of motivation. University student Gemma tells how she changed her mind set to turn an unexpected Christmas away from her family in Italy into a positive experience. And Angie describes how we should spend more time taking care of ourselves, as we would a child.

Also, Abbie explains why it is okay to admit you are struggling and to ask for help; discusses dealing with anxiety about the future and tells how she felt nervous about going back to work in retail.

You can watch the videos and find more information and resources regarding mental health and wellbeing, at: https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/young-peoples-zone/mental-health-support/ and follow @readingyoungpeople on Instagram.

Deborah Glassbrook, Executive Director of Children’s Services, said: “The last year has been a particularly difficult time for our children and young people. They have had to cope with the anxiety of staying away from school, friends and family members and have faced uncertainty in all aspects of their lives.

“The No5 young ambassadors share fascinating stories in their videos and give some great advice about how they have dealt with different situations. As we enter the long summer holidays, I am sure it will be a big help for young people to hear about the real-life experiences of their peers and to think about their own mental wellbeing.”

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Lead Councillor for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, said: “The COVID pandemic has significantly impacted many people’s wellbeing over the last year, and for young people, getting back a normal life may feel far away. I’m proud that work done by Tessa Brunsden, Community Alcohol Partnership Officer, with local secondary school children earlier this year was able to inform this collaborative project. Her presentations and discussions with the pupils highlighted that many young people’s anxiety surrounding COVID wasn’t just related to physical health and following the local Government guidance, but also in maintaining friendships, planning for the future, and concerns for their family members.

“The young ambassadors at No5 are trusted faces for many young people in Reading, and they have created some excellent videos touching on specific issues raised in the school sessions. As Reading follows the rest of the country in leaving lockdown restrictions, the videos are an important reminder to take the next step at your own pace, as even a positive change can be different for everyone.

“I’d encourage everyone to watch the videos when they’re shared on our social media platforms each Sunday, or take a look at the full playlist here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW2GVxPNwSYZTgRMooLH0io2ubsYbmgyX.”

No5 is a community-based organisation offering free, confidential, specialist counselling and mental health support to children and young people aged 11-25. Visit the website at: https://no5.org.uk/.

Carly Newman, Operations and Relationships Manager at No5, said: “Our Young Ambassadors provide fantastic insight into the experiences and struggles of young people over the last 16 months, and it is so important that local young people hear their messages and know that they are not alone. We are so glad to work alongside our statutory partners to share these messages and help support local young people.”

The six short videos are also being shared on Brighter Futures for Children’s and Reading Borough Council’s social media channels over the summer.