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Young people from Haverhill take centre stage in film

Aspiring filmmakers from the Samuel Ward Academy
Aspiring filmmakers from the Samuel Ward Academy

A new film highlighting the experiences of young people dealing with emotional wellbeing and mental ill health has premiered in Haverhilll.

Aspiring filmmakers from Samuel Ward Academy scripted and developed ‘Mind. Your Language’ with representatives from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) youth council.

The film, which places young people centre stage, is designed to prompt discussion of the often taboo subject of mental health in the classroom, including finding the right language to discuss it and advice on how to seek support.

Its first public screening took place at Haverhill Arts Centre last Tuesday to an audience of young people, parents and teachers, as well as representatives from Suffolk’s public health team and NSFT who jointly commissioned the project.

Structured in six short sections - presented almost exclusively by young people illustrating personal stories – the film focuses on key areas like differing perceptions of emotional wellbeing and identifying where to go for help.

It invites young people, teachers, parents and others to take up the subject as a talking point and to make simple pledges to tackle the stigma surrounding the subject.

Alana Blackwell, one of the youth council members involved in the film, said: “I loved working with the students and seeing a difference being made within school.

“It’s positive that things are changing for the good and it’s been great to be a part of it.”

Pat Stalker, assistant head at Samuel Ward Academy, said: “With mental health issues increasingly at the fore, and rightly so, we thought it was a great opportunity to be involved in such an important project. As a school that takes these things really seriously, we are happy to support something that raises awareness.”

Cllr Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health, said: “Finding the language to express how they are feeling, while overcoming the perceived stigma around mental health, are just two of the challenges facing young people today.”

To watch the film, go to www.healthysuffolk.org.uk

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