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Our Activists react to Dr Alex’s Children In Need documentary

5 min read
24 November 2021

In a recent documentary aired on BBC, Dr Alex George met with a number of young people, including our Activist Ryan, to explore the wide range of mental health issues children and young people are facing, and to find out how projects funded by Children in Need are making a difference.

We asked Luke and Abbey, two of our Activists, for their reactions to the documentary. Here’s what they said.

What did you make of the documentary?

Luke:

I thought it was brilliant. Hearing the stories of Dr Alex George and the young people he spoke to had a huge impact on myself and a lot of my friends who also watched the documentary. I think it was amazing having people with such different experiences and different stories covering a very wide range of topics. I know it really showed a lot of people that they’re not “weird” for struggling with their mental health and there are lots of others in the same position.

Abbey:

I found the documentary really inspiring. Both Dr Alex and all the young people and families he interviewed really inspired me, and hearing everyone’s stories and experiences really puts things into perspective and shows just how crucial it is that we have more mental health support for young people.

Hearing everyone’s stories and experiences really puts things into perspective and shows just how crucial it is that we have more mental health support for young people.
Abbey

A number of young people were interviewed. Were their experiences familiar to you?

Luke:

They were absolutely familiar to me!

When I was 14, I got diagnosed with PTSD and I remember how alone I felt. I really admire how Ryan was open about taking medication; as someone who is also on medication, I remember feeling so ashamed of it when I first started taking it, and I know I would’ve felt so much better hearing that conversation when I was 14! Even now when I would say I’m in a pretty good place mentally, it still made me feel more comfortable with my situation!

Abbey:

I related to all of the young people interviewed in that I also started showing symptoms of mental illnesses when I was really young – for me it was in primary school. This, and also being swept under the rug by CAMHS. It’s extremely worrying to see just how common it is for young people to be turned away from mental health services just because they aren’t deemed ‘serious enough’.

I really admire how Ryan was open about taking medication; as someone who is also on medication, I remember feeling so ashamed of it when I first started taking it, and I know I would’ve felt so much better hearing that conversation when I was 14!
Luke

What support do you think is needed to help young people who are struggling with their mental health?

Luke:

I think more funding needs to be put into mental health services for the NHS. I think it’s also crucial to continue campaigning for early support hubs, as we are doing with the #FundTheHubs campaign. In Northampton, we have a place called The Lowdown, which is a free service for young people to go and get support for pretty much anything. They offer so many services, including counselling and talking therapy. I think if there were more services similar to this, it would be so beneficial to a huge amount of young people. Because it offers mental health support, but also support for other things which could potentially lead to mental health difficulties.

Abbey:

Early intervention is crucial in supporting young people with their mental health. This is why YoungMinds’ #FundTheHubs campaign is so key – it is calling for hubs across the country that young people can go to as soon as they feel they are struggling. Places like this are so important to ensure that no young person is turned away from mental health support and that they receive that support before their mental health gets even worse.

Struggling with mental health can feel like an abnormality, like you’re different or the odd one out, but seeing things like this really emphasises that it’s okay not to be okay.
Luke

Why is it important for documentaries like this to broadcast and for young people to share their stories?

Luke:

It is so important for documentaries like this to be made! It’s so easy to say to someone “you’re not alone,” but speaking from my own experience, this message didn’t sink in until I began meeting and seeing people who were in similar situations to me. This documentary really proved that we’re not alone!

Struggling with mental health can feel like an abnormality, like you’re different or the odd one out, but seeing things like this really emphasises that it’s okay not to be okay, and that there are so many other people feeling the same way, so I think it’s so important to share stories and have documentaries such as this one.

Abbey:

Documentaries like this are so important to broadcast as they really highlight the urgency for better mental health services - and not only this, but they help break the stigma attached to talking about mental health. In the documentary, Dr Alex talks about how he was asked whether his own experiences with anxiety were “okay for him to talk about on camera”, and how he saw this as mental health still being stigmatised, saying “If I had pneumonia, you wouldn’t ask if i’m okay to talk about it - you’d just ask me.”

Him saying this really stuck out to me, as, despite society coming so far with breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, we still have so far to go. If people can talk openly about physical health, then what’s so different with mental health?

If even a single young person who is struggling in silence watches a documentary like this one and feels inspired enough to reach out for support, then it’s all worth it.

If even a single young person who is struggling in silence watches a documentary like this one and feels inspired enough to reach out for support, then it’s all worth it.
Abbey

‘Dr Alex: Our Young Mental Health Crisis’ is available to stream on iPlayer until 13 November 2022.

Watch now

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • YoungMinds Textline

    Text YM to 85258

    Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • The Mix

    Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them.

    Email support available via their online contact form.

    Free 1-2-1 webchat service available.

    Free short-term counselling service available.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, seven days a week
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
    9am - midnight, 365 days a year
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