Four charities

fighting to get our mental health talked about

Mental health is a term that for a long time now has been stigmatised. Pushed to the back bones of society, always there but rarely spoken about. Many people, of all ages, feel embarrassed about discussing their mental health issues or perhaps don't even realise that they have a mental health issue at all, and so it can go on ignored.

With shocking statistics emerging all the time, the importance of discussing mental health is becoming increasingly more apparent. When it comes to mental health, speech really is priceless and while it may not stop it, the more we talk about mental health, the less of a stigma it becomes.

Mental health is a wellbeing issue and problems with it can affect anyone – regardless of sex, gender or age. It may not always be obvious that someone is struggling with their mental health and so raising awareness of it within our society can be highly important in helping someone feel that they can speak out.

Theresa May has recently announced that the government are going to put more focus on supporting mental health issues and removing the stigma that surrounds it. The recognition of a need for more support of this issue by our government is highly significant and a big first step in greater support and awareness nationwide. The increased focus will include providing training in schools on areas such as mental health first aid.

While Government recognition is a big first step, Theresa May also acknowledged that the implementation of new schemes will take time. As a result, people may not benefit from the changes for some time yet. This means that in the meantime, the work of charities who support mental health issues is crucial.

There are several charities across the UK who dedicate their time and funding to help raise awareness of mental health and to help those who are struggling with it to speak out and get help.

Four charities working to raise awareness and support those with mental health problems are:

Young Urban Arts Foundation

YUAF are a charity set up in 2009 that dedicate their time to help disadvantaged and vulnerable young people by engaging them with the arts. They offer two programmes that are focused on supporting mental health within schools and communities.

1. Mental health peer educator

The programme aims to train young people in the most common mental health areas that affect young people such as themselves or their peers. This is because studies show that young people will confide in their peers rather than their family, a familiar adult or healthcare professional. As a result, the training will enable the young people to identify, support and advise on mental health. In addition to this the programme will help to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, through education.

2. Skip to the beat

This programme helps young people to find positive ways to express their emotions through creativity and music. Consequently enabling young people to find effective tools to self-manage conditions.

Rachel Sarpong, 15 years old, wrote this poem after the first five-days on Skip to the beat:

"Young Urban Arts saves lives day by day
A week full of activities that takes the pain away
On Wednesday I remembered what happiness was
I had always been on the side of depression and was finally getting across
A smile gradually took over my face
I was having fun and I swear I couldn't have been in a better place
I am not a mental health disorder I am me
I am not my thoughts I can be whoever I want to be
Things aren’t the best but they get better they always do
Let’s stop looking back at the past because the past doesn’t define you
How would we know a good day if we didn’t have a bad one?
I am Rachel and in a couple of years this will be a battle I have won
You all have a space in my heart
And after today we will all have a positive fresh start"

YUAF’s main aims are early intervention and building resilience through the arts, this allows participants to rely on the material they create once the programme is finished.

If you are interested in either of these programmes or want to learn more about Young Urban Arts Foundation (YUAF), you can visit their website here.


Mind provides advice and support to people suffering with mental health problems. They aim to raise awareness, and promote understanding, of mental health and ultimately want to improve the services available to those suffering from mental health problems.

It is estimated that only 25% of people with mental health problems receive support each year”.

Mind offers information and support nationally and locally across England and Wales. They have several different campaigns such as 'Find the words’, ‘Crisis care’ and ‘Life support’, all of which have been devised to help those who are struggling with mental health issues – whether they need help speaking out or are in need of urgent support.

The Mind website also offers information on how you can help support people with mental health issues and get involved with their charity; this includes becoming a campaigner, making a donation or fundraising.

If you are looking for support or to get involved, you can visit the Mind website here.


This charity has a twenty-five year history and aims to raise public awareness of mental health issues and promote research. As stated on their website, Sane has three main aims:

1. To raise awareness and combat stigma about mental illness, educating and campaigning to improve mental health services.

2. To provide care and emotional support for people with mental health problems, their families and carers as well as information for other organisations and the public.

3. To initiate research into the causes and treatments of serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and depression and the psychological and social impact of mental illness.

One campaign that Sane are fronting is 'The Black Dog Campaign', this campaign aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage people to seek help early.

Alongside this, they also have links with Black Dog Tribe, a project that provides a space where people can talk openly about mental health issues and realise that they are not alone.

One of the creators of Black Dog Tribe, Ruby Wax – comedian and actress – said:

"Six years ago, I had the tsunami of all depressions. What was really most healing for me, beside the drugs, was meeting my own people – my tribe. When you meet each other, it's such a relief to know you’re not alone."

For more information about Sane you can visit their website here.


YoungMinds is a charity that is dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young people in the UK. They provide a parents helpline, online resources, and training and development. They provide essential information on children’s mental health and their wellbeing in publications and their E-newsletter.

There are sections on their website directed at children, parents and professionals, ensuring that the charity are doing everything they can to help children and their parents deal with any mental health issues. Information for children includes sections on looking after themselves, providing more information on the issues that are worrying them and real life stories.

YoungMinds also dedicate a lot of their time to campaigning and aim to be at the forefront of lobbying and policy development around the issue of children and young people's emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Visit the YoungMinds website.

The above article by Ellie Riley first published on in Feb, 2017.