Guest Blog – David Wong

We at Fitzrovia Youth in Action (FYA) are very passionate about the issues of mental health and especially in relation to young people.

In general 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem and in Camden many are not receiving the support they need from public services or those around them.

FYA have been organising awareness campaigns over the last ten years and have delivered workshops around mental health to many young people in Camden. This is part of our peer education model where young people are trained in mental health awareness, they can then create a piece of media to educate their peers on the topic and go out to the community to deliver workshops on mental health.

The programme is accredited, as young people receive AQA certificates for the work they completed, as well as employability training to help them include the experience in their professional portfolios.   

Last year, we surveyed over 300 young people in Camden about where they would go to get help around mental health. 74% thought there was not enough information available for local young people. So we feel more needs to be done to prevent young people from developing mental health problems through raising awareness, encouraging them to talk to those around them and better access professional support when necessary.

84% of those we surveyed said they preferred learning from people closer to their own age and young people were 2.5 times more likely to approach a friend or peer rather than go to a mental health service. Our innovative peer education programme, supported by Camden Council, has been very effective in reaching out to peers who might otherwise not have received any support. Through our youth-led approach, we have been able to support the council to increase knowledge, reduce stigma and make sure young people know where to go to seek help.

The young people who are trained as peer educators, have also developed their own skills and confidence through running this programme. So we think this is a great model that Camden should be very proud of but we think the Council can go further and young people themselves have an important role to play here. We believe more preventative work needs to be done through engaging many more young people in supporting their peers in schools and youth clubs across Camden.

We would like to encourage Camden to support and keep this work going and we would like to contribute to creating more awareness around Mental health, especially in schools and youth clubs.

Local people can also reach out to organisations such as Healthwatch Camden to get information on Camden’s health and social care service providers. Young people can easily access Healthwatch Camden’s ‘Start Here…’ online guide 24 hours a day which will direct them to the mental health services available to them.

If you’d like to get more information about our projects or campaigns contact us