Award to Young People/YOPEY

Lydia Banton, Charlotte Cox, Ciara Dineen, Gracie Powell, Antony Sibley

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A group of Bedfordshire teenagers are raising awareness of mental health.

Young people who have used 'CHUMS', the Bereavement Trauma & Emotional Well being Service, at Child Services of NHS, have formed a group called Connect. Overseen by CHUMS participation officer Niki Scott said “This is a group of amazing young people. They work together to help raise awareness of mental health issues that young people face and fight to reduce the stigma attached.“The members of the group give up their free time and are all passionate and dedicated individuals who work tirelessly together to raise awareness and educate other young people and adults.”

The members of Connect meet once a week to discuss current issues and ideas that might affect them on a daily basis. Part of the draw for the youngsters is to meet others who may be suffering from similar mental health issues.

The group held a workshop about young people accessing mental health services for NHS professionals Gracie Powell who has been helped by CHUMS for anxiety issues and clinical depression, now promotes it by speaking at local conferences, schools and on the radio. Members of the group are working on a short film to be shown in schools. “The film gives us a chance to fight the stigma of mental health issues in young people.

Another Connect member who is heavily involved in promotional work is Antony Sibley, he suffered anxiety attacks. He helps run the magazine. “We work together to fill it with important features plus concert and film reviews and the like.”Ciara Dineen, suffering from severeOCD(ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder),isalsoamemberofthegroup:“The group is so welcoming and has understood my issues. ”Another member Lydia Banton said: "CHUMS has helped me through a difficult, lonely time due to my Dad having mental health problems.” Charlotte Cox lost her best friend to cancer. “The bereavement service at CHUMS really helped me come to terms with my loss.”


Success Story

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Sam Carvalho has become a successful online agony uncle helping young people in Britain and abroad with their problems.

He has particularly helped teenagers struggling to cope with eating orders, depression and self-harm – something he knows about himself as a former sufferer.

But as well as providing advice, support and encouragement, the kind-hearted 22- year old has helped raise money for charities.

Sam's started with bulimia, anorexia and depression when he was 13. This included hardly eating and then at other times binging and then bringing food back up. He also did excessive exercise.

It is thought his condition was prompted by a comment somebody made at school about his figure. His weight went down from eight to six stones. “I managed to hide it from my parents until I was about 16,” he said.

He has been on and off anti-depressants ever since.

In 2012 Sam had the idea of setting up a support website for others – – having already established himself as a great success on social media sites. He has over 124,000 followers on Twitter The response has been amazing, people contact him not only from Cambridge, where he has received lots of publicity in local media, but also from the rest of the UK and from every continent.

Requests for advice come to him via the website and Twitter. Sam is not a professional medic and whenever anyone visits his website, a warning flashes up: Always contact the emergency services if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.

People usually often just needed someone to talk to other than family and friends, sometimes because they are afraid or embarrassed. “Sam believes a few of his discussions have been life-saving. “Some have said that they were going to harm themselves or take overdoses but have since changed their mind.”

Sam believes eating disorders are a growing problem for both sexes. “Although the perception is that eating disorders usually affect only females it can be quite common in teenage boys, as in my case.”

One of the few things he can still do is be an ambassador for the charity YOPEY, which made him Cambridge shire's Young Person of the Year in 2013. For this charity he attends events and adds a touch of glamour – the good-looking lad used to be a model.

Young people help reduce stigma for Mental Illness

CFMH gives 2 awards to young people eeach year  at the Annual Ball. They are selected because they voluntarily contribute in the Community to familiarize people with Mental illness, carrying the message that mental illness  can be spoken about without embarrassment, and it can be treated. It is a message of hope.

Yopey /CFMH Award winner 2017 Jodie Goodacre

Yopey_1.pngThe suicide of a friend jolted her from a downward spiral which had seen her attempt to take her own life,  it inspired her to become a voice for young people affected by the stigma of mental ill-health.

Her  campaigning on mental health  includes Volunteering  with ‘Time to Change’ taking the message to schools in the county ,organizing  events, being a Media commentator and inspiring others to be open about their own challenges.

Jodie has spoken frankly to students around the country about her battle with mental health, including self-harming at 16, a suicide bid at the age of 18 and her eventual diagnosis. The girl whose self-confidence plummeted when injury halted her dream of a sporting career, is now in demand from television and radio as a commentator on mental health.

At age 16  she began to self-harm .At the age of 18 she tried to take her own life.

Six months after her  attempt, a close family friend took his own life. “We grew up together: ‘It was the jolt I needed and it opened my eyes to what was going on in my life , things needed to change. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what he went through and, what his family, friends and I were feeling’.

Her friend’s death gave Jodie "the passion to fight for others, not feeling alone like he did. And rather than just wanting to change I realized I had to make change happen.

“I am living with a mental illness rather than fighting it.  I have an illness but it does not define me and I want to encourage others to do the same.”  she said.

‘The hardest part of the stigma around mental health is not being able to talk openly about it as you would with a physical health problem,’ said Jodie. She has tried to break the stigma , “It is nice to be out there and making a difference  for those less able to have their voice heard, I can be their voice. The door is opening on mental illness.

Yopey /CFMH Award winner  2017 Roshni Patel

Yopey_3.pngRoshni Patel publishes a newsletter Called Positivity for other young people with eating disorders , circulated in mental health clinic waiting rooms .The newsletter came out several times last year. Roshni writes all of the articles herself with ideas of coping strategies that she  was given while in hospital .

Roshni would like a career in mental health services.

Her eating disorder at age 14 led to admission into an eating-disorder clinic for eight weeks .

Since then, around stressful periods, her weight reduces.”

Roshni took the very brave decision to speak to school assemblies and classes about her experiences. Her head of school said: “To speak with both passion and clarity about such personal matters to five audiences of nearly 400 each took enormous courage. She earned the respect of staff and students alike. ‘ I could tell from the silence in the room that Roshni's words had a profound impact and encouraged students to reflect on the issue.

YOPEY Awards