Youth Board with Lived Mental Health Experience Launches UK’s Only Children’s Mental Health Festival

News Release, (2021, November 4). Youth Board with Lived Mental Health Experience Launches UK’s Only Children’s Mental Health Festival. Psychreg on Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/youth-board-lived-mental-health-experience-uks-only-childrens-mental-health-festival/

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Our mental health system is failing our youth. According to NHS Digital, 1 in 6 children aged between 5–16 now have a diagnosable mental health problem , yet, according to Mental Health UK, 75% of young people are currently not receiving any treatment when suicide remains the biggest killer of young people in the UK.

The system isn’t working. Schools are overwhelmed. Teachers, key workers and the medical community are under-resourced. Mental health support services for children and young people are struggling to meet the weight of demand due to a lack of funding and sustainable government strategy.

Co-founded by Jonny Benjamin MBE in 2018, Beyond is a grant-giving charity that aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and teachers in the UK. Beyond’s Youth Board who are the heart and soul of the charity and drive its initiatives, comprise inspirational youth mental health activists determined to move beyond words to create real change. 

On 9th February 2022, during children’s mental health week, the youth board will be co-producing the UK’s only children’s mental health festival for schools and colleges. Comprising classes and lesson plans on resilience, mindfulness and mental health well-being, hosted by approved specialists, the Youth Board hope to surpass last year’s festival which ran with celebrity support in 1,200 schools and reached over half a million children, teachers, and parents. 

The youth board, photographed above by the legendary photographer Rankin comprise young people with lived experience of mental health problems. From suicide, psychosis, schizophrenia to depression, anxiety, childhood trauma, neurodiversity and a spectrum of other mental health challenges, they draw strength from each other and turn it into powerful campaign work. 

The Youth Board comprise: 

  • London-based Antonio Ferrera, a 23-year-old London activist, football coach and psychology student with a previous diagnosis of schizophrenia who acted as a mental health consultant for East Enders. Antonio has just launched a campaign calling senior leaders of the mental health charity sector to account for their anti racist promises and to eradicate tokenism.
  • Solihull-based Ava Lily, 10, who suffered severe PTSD as a result of bullying and now wants to help other children understand their own feelings
  • London-based Jacob People, a student psychotherapist who is passionate about mental health in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • London-based Kadra Abdinasir, head of Children and Young People’s Programmes at the Centre for Mental Health who wants to dismantle structural racism in the charity sector
  • Wales-based Ayla Lyn Jones, a 19-year-old from Cardiff who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type) who had to accept her reality wasn’t real at all.
  • Leeds-based Joe Clark, who recovered after a suicide attempt during his A’levels, which nearly took his life. 

All the youth board are united in the fact that they want to start supporting other teenagers and young adults struggling with mental health issues to feel safe enough to share how they feel without judgment and shame, so that fewer people end up putting their lives in danger.


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