In December 2017, eight young people from West Cumbria had become so despairing about the lack of youth mental health services in their area and the impact it was having on family and friends that they called a public meeting and came together to form the We Will youth mental health campaign. We Will is a youth mental health group is based in the Ewanrigg ward of Maryport, Cumbria, which is in the 10% most deprived communities in the UK and one of the furthest constituencies from Westminster.
All of the founding members of WE WILL had been impacted directly or indirectly by mental health problems and the lack of support available to young people. They were determined to do something about it and were adamant that as young people they were best placed to make change. Their plan was to gather young people aged 14-18 and to support young people to lead change in how we deal with youth mental health in schools, communities, families and wider circles.
‘Young people have been waiting up to 18 months for specialist mental health support. It’s simply not good enough. No young person should have to suffer like this.’
Their work has included meeting with the Mental Health Minister, talking to GP’s; friends; school staff; family members; health commissioners and health workers; community leaders and local decision makers. They organised a schools conference with a panel of Heads, teachers and governors and chaired the discussion. They presented to health and community groups, decision makers, funders, business leaders, senior health officials and attended countless meetings in an attempt to understand where they could make a difference.
Like many groups, We Will’s plans for 2020 have been affected by the current situation. Passionate for young people to be part of the solution, not the problem. In the lead up to Mental Health Awareness Week We Will launched their latest film ‘Just listen’ which reveals their top tip for improving youth mental health, and how young people can connect with each other to tackle the loneliness they face when experiencing mental health problems.