Will Poulter announced as ambassador of mental health charity HFEH Mind
For the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, we held a special screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for children and young people across our boroughs. We surprised them by bringing out actor from the film Will Poulter, who is our new mental health ambassador for our youth services.
From West London himself, Will talked to the young people about the importance of taking care of our mental health, and his own struggles with anxiety, depression, and OCD.
He also led a discussion with young people around mental health, talking about the importance of being honest about mental health, and sharing coping strategies.
This is vitally important, as the mental health of young people has declined in recent years.
Mental health of young people in the UK
Nationally, the number of children and young people needing support with their mental health has grown significantly in the last five years. One in six young people aged 7-16 were suffering from a mental health disorder in 2022, up from one in nine five years ago.
Yet a quarter of a million children with mental health problems cannot get help on the NHS, as NHS Trusts have been forced to raise the thresholds young people must meet before they are referred for treatment.
This is where local mental health charities like HFEH Mind and their services can make a big difference.
Our Circle service is designed to provide early intervention and prevention before mental health issues can get worse.
Speaking after the event, Will said:
“I’m really passionate about the subject of mental health as I was diagnosed in my teens with depression, generalised anxiety disorder, and OCD. When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of people openly talking about their own mental health which is why I wanted to do something for HFEH Mind during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week to help further that conversation and continue to normalise it.
“I grew up in and around Hammersmith and I didn’t know where to go for help when I first realised I was struggling with my mental health as a teenager. I know what it’s like to struggle with your mental health when you’re young and how important it is to get tailored support. That’s why I wanted to support HFEH Mind and the work they’re doing. They provide an incredible range of services for local young people including creative mental health projects, support in schools, as well as a new crisis prevention service in Ealing called ‘Circle’. But we need more services and projects like these – both here in London and across the UK too.”
Nana Owusu, Director of Children & Young People’s Services at HFEH Mind said:
“We owe it to children and young people to make sure we’re having these conversations about mental health, that they know where to go for help if they’re struggling, and most importantly, that they can access support as soon as they need it. Will’s support and openness this week has been fantastic. Hopefully more young people will feel able to start a conversation with their friends about mental health or reach out to their family, teachers or charities like HFEH Mind if they need help.”
The Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan MP, also attended the event and commented: “With waiting times increasing and demand for mental health treatment growing, it is vital to have a preventative approach to mental illness.
“Too many young people are stuck for years on waiting lists without receiving the support they do desperately need.
“Targeted services with the community are crucial in ensuring people can access the tailored support they need, from people they trust. That’s why the next Labour Government will put an open access mental health hub in every community, so every young person has the opportunity to have the best start in life.”
Further mental health support for young people
We have a range of mental health support services for young people, as well as parents and education staff.
Read more about how we’re protecting young people’s mental health.
Posted on: 16th May 2023