Cambridge Junction calls for the Government to do more to help young people’s mental health in the wake of the pandemic

Today we call on the Government to do more to support young people’s mental health as we launch a new film made with young people from the Darwin Centre to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2021.

My Illness film still

My Illness, which features young people with complex mental health needs aims to offer a message of hope to those struggling with their mental health. The film can be watched below.

The launch of this powerful, thought-provoking film follows on from the publication of the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health in the Pandemic study which was carried out earlier this year. On a population-wide basis, the negative mental health effects of the pandemic are likely to last much longer than its physical health impacts. The effects of physical distancing, social isolation, and lockdown on individual mental wellbeing, as well as the loss of a loved one, increase the mental health challenges for the UK population.

Since the start of the pandemic, Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, have conducted several surveys to understand the impact that Covid-19 has had on young people’s mental health. The results paint a devastatingly bleak picture of anxiety, self-harm, panic attacks, lost motivation, and lack of hope for the future. 

Our Creative Learning team has been working with young people at the Darwin Centre, a specialist unit near Cambridge for young people with complex mental health challenges. It is a film that conveys a message of hope to those who may be suffering similar issues.

“We can’t articulate what they’re going through to family and friends, or even to us, but this film can do that” Parent of a young person involved in the My Illness project.

“New and engaging approaches to building young people’s creative skills and confidence are more vital now than ever and this fantastic film, and the young people and our team’s brilliant work together in making My Illness, is compelling evidence of that. Making films, or painting pictures or writing music, can express emotions or hopes or fears that sometimes people can’t easily put into words and this has an enormously positive impact on the mental health of young people. We’re honoured to have worked with the young people at Darwin and I really hope we see and hear more from them in future.

At a moment in our collective history when there has been such a traumatic event in the lives and development of all our children, more needs to be done by government to invest in mental healthcare provision and particularly the specialist care of centres like Darwin. And we are committed at Cambridge Junction to working with education partners to ensure that more young people with a whole range of complex needs have the opportunity to benefit from the creativity, confidence and voice that the arts can provide.” Matt Burman, Artistic Director at Cambridge Junction. 

“This powerful new film made by young people at the Darwin Centre is a great example of what is possible when we give young people a platform and proper outlet for their creativity. Hearing their voices in this way is incredibly moving and inspiring and shows how important it is to support creative ways of improving young people’s mental health and the value of the arts to all our wellbeing.”  Alastair Campbell, Writer, broadcaster, and mental health campaigner.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 10-16 May 2021.

We have developed a page www.junction.co.uk/advice where young people can find information on charities and organisations who can offer help and advice on mental health issues.