New research probing the mental health of a group of children and young people across Blackpool has uncovered shocking findings, youth workers claimed today.
Youngsters aged from eight to 21, who were quizzed in a survey by Blackpool Boys and Girls Club, based on Mereside and Queens Park estates in the resort, admitted to feeling lonely, low and vulnerable – feelings which youth workers have said can have a devastating impact on their futures.
This direct approach with children, and their frank responses, have been praised by Blackpool’s chief of mental health services.
Now the youngsters have made their own posters to highlight the issue and prompt others to speak up if they are facing problems.
These ‘scary’ looking images were inspired by the famous Scream paintings by Edvard Munch, and Boys and Girls Club staff have said while they might look shocking they are important in opening up discussions on the “taboo” topic.
Youth worker Dave Blacker said: “They are scary, but mental health is scary so we’ve been talking it through and demystifying it.
“Although mental health can be scary it’s because someone is ill, so it’s within the context of those conversations the posters become demystified, and it’s their opportunity for them to speak up for others.
“It’s something they really grasped, even though they’re young.
“We’re now looking at what they do to deal with those feelings – listening to music, going to the seaside, popping a balloon, being a good friend.
“This is a grassroots approach to looking at mental health and focussing on what makes you happy.”
The work is part of an ongoing project for young people to explore and discuss mental health, including creating artwork based on the highs and lows of the life of film icon Marilyn Monroe. The work has been praised by a top health professional in Blackpool.
Ashok Khandelwal, manager of primary care mental health services in the resort, said: “It is fascinating to see the power of self expression these children have. I have no doubt in the therapeutic value [this work will have for] these youngsters.”
Mr Blacker added: “We believe in proactive interventions designed to keep our young people mentally well and healthy, rather than waiting for a problem to occur. It is as important as promoting physical health and well-being.”