Ely College is taking a proactive approach to tackling the issue of mental health in young people by arranging a special session on Monday, aimed at getting students to talk openly.
At a time when mental health of children and young adults is increasingly hitting the headlines, the college, together with Talking FreEly, hopes to give students a chance to access help and voice their concerns in a groundbreaking event, provided “by students for students”.
The two have organised a special evening to focus on teen mental health issues next week, with renowned author, campaigner and pundit Natasha Devon MBE invited to speak.
Natasha tours schools and colleges throughout the UK, delivering talks as well as conducting research on mental health, body image, gender and social equality.
She regularly gives evidence to the Education and Health Select Committees, representing the interests of teenagers and teachers.
In 2016 she was named one of the 500 most influential people in Britain by The Times and Debretts and was awarded an MBE for services to young people in 2015.
Anthony Sigrist, who heads Talking FreEly said he hoped the evening would make a real difference to the lives of local youth.
“Incidence of mental illness amongst young people is increasing more rapidly than within any other age group yet it is often overlooked.
“Projects like ours are essential in supporting our young people and making a lasting impact on how society perceives and tackles mental illness, now, and in the future.”
Ely College principal Richard Spencer said he hoped the event would bring Ely residents of all ages together to share their experiences and solutions.
“Talking openly about mental health is critical to identifying issues and targeting support.”
The mental health of children and young adults has increasingly gained media coverage, with organisations such as Young Minds campaigning for the government to place more emphasis on preventative measures and to give young people a voice when it comes to their own mental health.
Talking FreEly has run similar events in the past but for the first time, sixth-form students at the college will play an active role.
The pop-up cafe will be run by Bishop Laney sixth-formers, who will invite younger students and other local schools to take part in the discussion as part of their PLEDGES and Futures Day.
Talking FreEly at Ely College takes place on Monday, January 22. From 4pm the free event will open to the general public with a Talking FreELY pop-up cafe and a discussion hosted by Natasha Devon MBE.
There will be information on mental health for all ages, as well as other support and advice.
For more information see https://www.facebook.com/events/910407249112077/