The MeeTwo Mental Help Handbook For Teenagers
Research shows that half of all adult mental health issues manifest by the age of 14 and the average age for the onset of clinical anxiety is just 8 years old. One in five young people will experience a mental health issue in any given year and suicide is now the leading cause of death in young people.
PJ was 15 years old when she got in touch with us. She was shy, and clearly a bit nervous when she asked if she could help us with our work supporting teenagers with mental health issues. PJ suffers from anxiety herself, and her internship gave us an opportunity to get to know her. She told us how sometimes, her anxiety was so bad that she couldn't get out of bed in the morning. She had panic attacks at school, freaked out before exams and found social events really intimidating.
What amazed us was not how hard it was for PJ to handle her feelings of anxiety, but how hard it was for her to talk about them. She couldn’t tell her friends because she didn't want them to view her as different. Her school only cared about grades and she was a straight A student so as far as they were concerned, she was fine. And although she knew her parents loved her, they weren't getting on with each other, and her Dad was suffering from depression, so she didn't want to put even more pressure on him.
Getting to know PJ made us realise that there is an awful lot of talk around teenage mental health, yet the most important voices of all seem to be excluded from the conversation. We thought that was wrong, so we began asking young people in schools all over the UK to tell us what it feels like to be a teenager. They kept diaries, wrote stories, created art and photographs, made films and poetry about their lives and the communities they lived in.
It turns out that being a 21st century teenager is a pretty complex experience and when life is very difficult, there is a thin line between being sad and being depressed. Everyone blames social media, but the stories in the MeeTwo 'Mental Help' Handbook For Teenagers show that young people today are struggling with lots of very old-fashioned problems; family breakdown, exam stress, toxic friendships, eating disorders, self-harm, bereavement, poverty, abuse and of course, ultimately, suicide.
Politicians, clinicians, experts and journalists debate causes and consequences, but the opinions of teenagers themselves are rarely heard. The MeeTwo 'Mental Help' Handbook For Teenagers is an opportunity to give young people a voice. The content explores a broad range of issues, but the emphasis is firmly on wellbeing and support. Our work with young people has highlighted the fact that although numerous support groups and charities exist to provide support to them, most teenagers have never heard of them and have no idea how to access them.
The MeeTwo 'Mental Help' Handbook For Teenagers contains a uniquely holistic directory to help young people address all aspects of an issue. For example, a young person who is suffering with anxiety might find a helpline or explanatory information online. In contrast, the MeeTwo Mental Help directory will detail the best apps, TedX talks, books, recovery stories, self-care techniques, breathing instructions, online counselling models, hypnotherapy and options for in-school support.
A young person who is struggling with gender dysphoria will find, at best, one relevant UK support group by searching through a mainstream search engine. In contrast, the The MeeTwo Mental Help directory will provide support groups, helplines, vetted apps, books, TedX talks, shoemakers and safe transgender hairdressers.
Because young people are primarily digital consumers, it is unusual for anyone to bother making a printed publication aimed at this demographic. We think that's a mistake because print allows young people to browse serendipitously, whereas you need to actively search the internet.
We know that getting 'published' will be a huge confidence boost to the young people from difficult backgrounds who have taken part in this project. On a practical level it will help their CV's and might even be the thing that swings them a job or a place at college. Most importantly, it will show them that they mean something, and that their experiences matter.
The MeeTwo 'Mental Help' Handbook For Teenagers has a lot of professional good will behind it. Journalists and designers have been working with young contributors to help ensure that their work achieves real depth and resonance. The material we have gathered will be put together in a magazine hackathon at UAL - London College of Communication. The 150 page publication will be printed in full colour on high quality paper and it will be distributed free to UK schools reaching more than 30,000 teenagers.
We don't have stretch goals but if we raise a bit more than our goal we will increase the print run and if we raise substantially more, it will go towards a new MeeTwo 'Mental Help' Handbook For Teenagers in 2019. We can't do any of it without you though. Help us to make it happen.
Thank You Suzi and Kerstyn
Risks and challenges
The content for the magazine has now been created and our designers are ready to craft a beautiful publication. All that is left to do is to raise the funds to get it printed and into the hands of young people across the UK.
Our only risk is that we don't raise our fundraising target through Kickstarter. We will do our level best to prevent this happening by raising awareness of the Kickstarter campaign using every avenue open to us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)