NottAlone Live host mental health and wellbeing event at YMCA Newark and Sherwood, inviting young people to take part in climbing, music and art activities
Hundreds of pupils from the county’s schools came together to explore wellbeing and mental health support at an engaging event.
From clip and climb to beatboxing, NottAlone Live offered a range of workshops, talks and showcased free support services for young people in Nottinghamshire to help promote wellbeing.
NottAlone is a mental health support and advice service and collaboration between Nottinghamshire’s county and city councils and NHS integrated care board, and hosted the event at Newark’s YMCA Community and Activity Village yesterday (Thursday, February 8).
It was held as part of Children’s Mental Health Week, this year themed ‘My Voice Matters’, which takes place between Monday February 5, and Sunday February 11.
Nott Alone co-founders Dr Orlaith Green and Dr Maddi Popoola highlighted the particular challenges which face young people, including social media and school stress, and the importance of children knowing what services and support is available to them.
Dr Popoola, who is also educational psychologist and mental health support team service manager at Nottingham City Council, said: “I think it is a range of things and I think the systems around young people are changing and different to before.
“They have the outside influence of social media, and the educational system becoming more pressuring. When you speak with young people they’re the two key things that come up.”
Dr Green, principal educational psychologist and group manager, psychology and inclusion services at Nottinghamshire County Council, added: “They say when they have good relationships at school, with friends or teachers, it helps. It doesn’t take away the stress entirely but it helps.”
The pair explained that while most young people showed awareness about the effects of social media and the importance of being responsible online, they heard young people speak about it both positively and negatively, as a “place of affirmation” and as a “fake world”, which can have negative impacts on self-esteem.
“The systems that kids are in, they’re tapped into that so much more now,” Dr Green added.
“They’re aware of news, of international politics and the cost of living through social media, and they worry about these things. They worry for other people.”
Dr Popoola said: “That’s why NottAlone is important as a website. Kids can feel independent and access it themselves, there’s options to text, call , email or for face-to-face. Whatever works for them.”
While the event showcased a range of support and advice services in its stalls room, including Be U support, Kooth, Positively Empowered Kids and CBC, the emphasis of the event was equally on staying well and supporting good mental health, with workshops in music, writing, climbing and art, all encouraging the pupils to try new things and express themselves.
In keeping with the ‘My Voice Matters’ theme, a workshop was hosted by involvement champion Pheobe Mossop and mental health support team member Tracey Duke which asked children six questions about their mental health and encouraged them to answer them in whichever way they felt comfortable.
Pheobe said: “The most important thing was to recognise all kinds of voices. Young people shouldn’t have to change how they want to express themselves.
“They are so special because they explore in so many different ways.”
The workshop encouraged participants to create mind maps, voice notes, draw pictures or answer the questions in any way which felt right to them, in a bid to “facilitate them not hold them back”.
Tracey added: “We’re going to collect the answers and send them to all the schools, who are going to make a pledge to change one thing because someone has mentioned it here.”
Among those who took part in the workshop were Tilda, Rumaysah and Isla of Parkdale Primary.
Tilda said: “[The workshop] was very helpful because we got to hear some positive messages at the end.
“It will help when we are older because now we know what to do if we’re ever feeling upset.”
Rumaysah added: “We’ve done a dance workshop and some of us did yoga, they split [the Parkdale pupils] into two groups and we each did dance or yoga.”
Isla added she had found the workshops to be really good fun.
As well as the workshops, a main stage area offered a range of music, talks and empowering shows for attendees.
It included paying compliments with Positively Empowered Kids, live music by HellCats, and spoken word poetry with Chris Oliver.