ENTERPRIZING SPIRIT: Amen Dhesi is aiming to tackle the huge problem of mental health by creating a new initiative called ‘Imagine Bradford’
ENTERPRIZING SPIRIT: Amen Dhesi is aiming to tackle the huge problem of mental health by creating a new initiative called ‘Imagine Bradford’

A young man from Wrose in Bradford – who is currently studying a Masters in Psychology of Sport and Exercise – has set up his own enterprise aimed at providing mental health support for young people in the city.

21-year old Amen Dhesi, a Leeds Beckett University student, has become ’infuriated’ with the government not doing enough for people who have mental health problems.

Along with friend Katie Mahon, Amen has created ‘Imagine Bradford’ as a way of tackling the stigma attached to mental health issues, helping young people to boost their confidence and providing mental health support.

A ‘YouGov’ poll commissioned and crowd funded by the campaigning organisation ‘38 Degrees found that 74 per cent of voters believe that funding for mental health should be greater or equal to funding for physical health.

The amount actually spent on mental health by the NHS last year was just 11.9 per cent of overall NHS spending.
Amen’s initiative is set to be launched at a black tie event on Saturday 29th October.

The young carer explained: “When I was younger, I was supported by Barnardo’s, and I’m currently supported by the charity ‘Mind’ and young adult carers.

“I became inspired by Thomas Barnardo, who set up his charity from a school in London evolving to an organisation which has helped millions of children.

“I want to give back the help that I’ve received and have a real impact on the people of Bradford, with the view of growing the enterprise into Yorkshire and beyond.”

When Amen was 12-years-old, his father was diagnosed with bipolar. Thanks to the support Amen and his family received, Amen’s father is now recovered and feeling ‘much better’.

Amen says he has been through ‘a lot of difficulty’ and has become resilient to challenges he has faced in life.

He now wants to use his understanding of mental health and give back to society.

“It’s a topic that many Asian people don’t understand,” he said. “Different generations grew up in different circumstances and in different eras.

“My mum has been the glue to the family, not only bringing up two children in such circumstances; but being the supportive mother that any son would want while coming to terms with his own mental health difficulties.”

Amen added: “Many Asian people don’t understand the academic side behind mental health because they hold strong beliefs and values. Some think, ‘God will sort everything out’, which is externalising the problem rather than taking ownership of yourself.”

Working with Katie’s theatre company, Bloomin’ Buds, Bradford-based online mental health and wellbeing support service Making Your Mind Up, and Eccleshill United football club, Imagine Bradford will deliver interactive workshops and sessions with the aim of educating young people about psychology and mental health using creative activities including art, drama, sport and many more creative activities.

With long waiting lists facing those seeking clinical help, the new initiative aims to act as an intermediary source of support.

Amen added: “I want to use my knowledge that I’ve gained from my degree and Sport Psychology Masters, combined with experience of growing up in an Indian household with a mental health issue that was quite severe, to create a project which will increase people’s awareness of mental health.

“We are going to be working in schools, community centres, ethnic minority communities and bring them together to understand what it is. I want the support that I gratefully received to be on a more public level.

“Our aim is to look at mental health issues in a positive way, get people talking about their experiences openly and from a young age.

“We have already teamed up with two schools in Bradford: Hanson Academy and Blakehill Primary School, and we hope to get more schools on board.”

Imagine Bradford will be launched at a ball held at the Great Victoria Hotel on Bridge Street in Bradford, on Saturday 29th October, from 6pm onwards.

Hosting the black tie event will be Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Geoff Reid, with entertainment provided by Leeds singer and former contestant on ‘The Voice’, Harris Hameed, and Bradford artist Hassan Ditta.

A talk will be presented by a guest speaker from Leeds Beckett University and Bloomin’ Buds will perform their latest theatre production.

Guests will also be invited to take part in an informal discussion around mental health, sharing their thoughts and opinions on how we can tackle society’s attitudes and make positive changes.

Tickets for the ball are £30 each and can be purchased by calling Amen on 07946 749798 or emailing info.imaginebradford@gmail.com.