On national Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May), Leeds City Council is launching a range of new resources created by young people for young people to support positive mental health and wellbeing.

These include peer support opportunities, a guide to creating a youth ‘wellbeing club’ from the Leeds Youth Council, and a website sharing advice on managing stress and anxiety by the Leeds Children’s Mayor. The new resources are all the result of collaborative projects run by Leeds City Council as part of the Child Friendly Leeds ambition.

The negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on child and youth mental health in the city has been highlighted by the young people involved in various Youth Voice initiatives, including the Leeds Children’s Mayor and the Leeds Youth Council and the city’s three members of Youth Parliament.

They have reported increased feelings of stress and anxiety among their peers due to remote learning, collapsing bubbles, uncertainty over examinations and assessments, lack of social contact and worries about the future.

Leeds Children’s Mayor, Samuel Hill (pictured above with Councillor Eileen Taylor) is a Year 6 pupil at Carr Manor Community School. He has worked with his classmates and Leeds City Council staff, to create the Helping Hand website for local primary school pupils. It features a variety of ideas and activities devised by children to help manage stress and anxiety.

Pupils in Leeds schools can also train to become ‘School MindMate Ambassadors’ and run activities promoting positive emotional health. A new resource pack and training programme guides pupils through activities such as creating a ‘wellbeing space’, making a mental health pledge wall or running an assembly about mental health. The programme is a collaboration between the Health and Wellbeing Service at Leeds City Council and local charity Space2.

Throughout the lockdowns young people from the Leeds Youth Council, UK Youth Parliament Leeds and the Together Leeds Youth network came together online to share ideas about how to help other young people with their mental health.

They decided to create a booklet to help schools and youth groups to run ‘wellbeing clubs’ and try out wellbeing activities like journaling, dance, group discussions and creative arts all designed to explore emotional wellbeing. The booklets are being posted to high schools and youth groups across the city, and copies will also be available for collection from the Public Health Resource Centre at Technorth in Chapel Allerton

The Leeds Children’s Mayor, Samuel Hill: “I know, as a child, that lockdown has affected everyone and this is why I’ve wanted to create the website. Helping Hand is all about giving the children of Leeds the resources to lift their mood and create somewhere to share any tips to de-stress and improve wellbeing.”

Visit the MindMate Leeds website, mindmate.org.uk, to find out more about wellbeing support for young people across the city.