The story of a Mix volunteer who set up her own mental health campaign

Illustration shows three young people picking flowers and handing them to one another

Hi, I’m Eleanor Benford and I’m 18. I am a student about to start studies in Psychology and Neuroscience and I am a keen advocate for mental health.

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, I was keen to start a campaign which would raise awareness of mental health difficulties young people aged 13-25 were experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness and so I chose to spread and encourage kindness around the community by encouraging people to reach out about their mental health difficulties as well as encouraging others to show kindness through starting mental health conversations. I also knew that kindness to oneself is incredibly valuable, so I wanted to do something that would teach self-care. Through helping others, I was also helping myself.

I knew I wanted to launch a mental health based campaign as my own mental health had been affected by the pandemic and I wanted to support others through their difficulties too, and so I launched Reach Out Covid Campaign.

What is Reach Out Covid Campaign?

Reach Out Covid Campaign is a movement which aims to raise awareness of the mental health difficulties young people are facing amidst the current crisis and to sign-post young people to mental health services which are continuing to provide their services remotely.

All costs of running the campaign are covered by a Rapid Response Peace First Grant, a grant provided to young people who are keen to take action in their communities in response to Covid-19. Peace First is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young people around the world to become powerful peacemakers by providing grants of up to $250 to fund their project at this time. I submitted an application and completed a virtual meeting with a member of Peace First, before I successfully received the grant.

A small team of other young people kindly volunteered to feature in the campaign through a video which promotes our action, and assist with the overall direction and running of the campaign. We hope that by having the message delivered by young people, others will see that as peers we are there to support each other, and that they are not alone at this time.

Connecting with young people

The campaign will be utilising Mental Health Awareness Week to further promote the importance of the mental health of young people. Over the course of the week, emails will be sent directly to schools and colleges highlighting the difficulties that students may be facing along with links to the campaign so that students can be directed to where they can reach out to if they need to. As well as this, we have been collecting a bank of young people’s experiences with their mental health since the pandemic began. We will be publishing these stories during the week in the exact words they were reported to us in; our platform will be used to give young people a voice which may otherwise be dismissed.

As important as it is that young people know which organisations they can turn to, we would also like to ensure that young people are educated as to how to regulate their emotions and how they can provide self-care to themselves. This is why we will be sharing various self-care methods over time on our platform.

Kindness is crucial

The pandemic is constantly changing and that’s why we are keeping our campaign versatile. It is of utmost importance to us that no matter what happens, young people’s mental health is protected. As restrictions are lifted, we know that the needs of young people will change and many people will experience anxiety about returning back to a new ‘normal’ so we are preparing for any turn that young people’s needs may take.

Kindness is vital at this time, sticking by one another has never been as important as is it now. Physical distancing does not mean social distancing and so we hope that people will share our campaign with their loved ones to give them the courage to reach out. We are relaying the message that mental health is just as important as physical health and we are all in this together.

Next Steps

  • Search Do-it for information about volunteering and opportunities in your local area.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
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By Holly Turner

Updated on 22-May-2020