Young people share what mental wellbeing means to them in pop-up exhibition

30 April 2019

A pop-up exhibition exploring what mental health and wellbeing means to young people has opened at Southwark Council’s Tooley Street office.

Earlier in the year, Southwark Council’s Public Health team asked young people from across the borough to help design the front cover of its Annual Public Health Report (APHR).

The report builds on the commitment the council made earlier  to the borough’s young people that 100 per cent of children and young people requiring mental health treatment are able to access it in a timely manner.

The winning entry was designed by Khalid, age 12. Runners up were Gus age 16, Tukudzwa age 14, and Jabari age 13.

Southwark’s APHR this year focused on the mental wellbeing of Southwark’s young people. The cover art, images and poetry throughout are all examples of how young people in the borough think about mental health and the issues they face, developed through direct engagement with young people.

Charity Poetic Unity ran two  workshops with young people to encourage them to write about their experiences with mental wellbeing through poetry and spoken word.

Southwark Council has carried out an extensive look at the mental health and wellbeing of the 24,000 10 to 17 year olds in the borough. Mental wellbeing is more than mental health. It’s a combination of feeling good and functioning well and can be affected by individual, interpersonal, community, and societal factors.

Locally, young people told us that exams and tests were among their biggest concerns. Findings from the 2016 Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) survey in Southwark reveal that 57 per cent of young people worried about exams “quite a lot” or “a lot”.

Family, general school work, the future and friendships were also other key areas of concern for young people in Southwark.

Results from the survey also highlighted that boys far more likely to have high levels of self-esteem when compared to girls. Girls were also found to be more likely to experience emotional disorders, with boys more likely to experience behavioural or hyperactivity disorders.

Positive relationships are a key component of mental wellbeing in all age groups. The 2016 school survey asked pupils about negative behaviours they may have experienced in their relationships. Findings showed that almost a quarter, 23 per cent, of secondary pupils surveyed had experienced at-least one form of negative behaviour, including jealousy when they wanted to visit friends or checking their phone, with either a current or previous partner.

The report makes a number of recommendations including continue to support whole-school approaches to mental wellbeing, including bullying prevention. Physical activity is positively associated with mental wellbeing but a national survey revealed only 11 per cent of Southwark young people exercised at an appropriate level everyday. Based on these finding report recommends increasing the uptake of health promoting activities such as the free gym and swim offer. 

Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health said: “Firstly, I want to say thank you to the young people who contributed to this report. You have afforded us a glimpse into the challenges you face on a daily basis.

“This exhibition is a fascinating insight into the emotional lives of the young people of our borough. It perfectly illustrates the creativity that runs through the veins of our borough that Southwark is known for. I would encourage everyone to come in, take a look and find out about the other side of young people, beyond the headlines you read.”

The exhibition will be open from April 29- 3 May. To read the full APHR please visit our website.

Page last updated: 30 April 2019

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