York artist, 17, launches passionate plea to save threatened service for young people

‘Remember, your mental health doesn't define you’ – York artist Rebecca
3 Feb 2016 @ 9.47 pm
| Health

A talented York teenage artist has launched an impassioned reflection on York Mind’s threatened service for young people.

York Mind is an independent provider of high quality mental health services in York and its surrounding area

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Seventeen-year-old Rebecca has spoken out in support of York Mind’s Young People’s Project, whose three-year funding from Comic Relief comes to an end in June.

Rebecca, who took part in the Young People’s Project’s Arts Award, said the experience had a profoundly beneficial effect on her mental health.

The Arts Award is a flexible accredited programme which supports young people aged 16-25 around a series of arts-based topics.

Rebecca’s story

‘The Art’s Award has made a positive impact on my life’
‘The Art’s Award has made a positive impact on my life’

Being a part of the Art’s Award was possibly the most uplifting six (and a bit) months of my entire life so far, Rebecca told YorkMix.

The Art’s Award helped me regain my artistic streak, but it also most certainly helped with my mental health, too. As soon as I got settled, the Art’s Award was something I looked forward to every week.

Overall, it’s clear the Art’s Award has made a positive impact on my life.

My intentions of accomplishing my dreams of becoming a mangaka and an author have always been very strong, and have always been my motivation, but thanks to the new found confidence I have now from attending the Art’s Award, I can see my future accomplishments of being successful shine even brighter.

I know for a fact that I won’t spend another year of my life sat in my room, wasting my life away with nothing to do

I know my mental health will very well get in the way at times, but I now know for sure I won’t let it beat me.

I must admit, I’ve never actually done so much work, nor put much effort into a project before, but it’s actually such a great distraction from the negative things, and also seeing the completed portfolio feels amazing, especially since it’s all been done in such a short space of time.

I also know for a fact that I won’t spend another year of my life sat in my room, wasting my life away with nothing to do. I’m going to join a few more groups this year, and I’m hoping to go to college this September.

For anyone reading this with the intentions of joining the Art’s Award but are frightened; please, just go for it and indulge yourself in it.

I know it seems terrifying, but if you’re lucky and manage to click with everyone in your group, despite your differences of personality and interests, it’ll be so worth it.

Remember, poor mental health doesn’t define you, there’s a person behind your illness. Please don’t forget they’re there.

‘Put me in a better place’

York Mind’s Young People’s Project – a safe and creative place
York Mind’s Young People’s Project – a safe and creative place

Since I stopped going to school, the Art’s Award has been the only place since then that I have felt completely safe.

See Rebecca’s amazing art on her website

Most people dreaded school, but for me, it was safe, and I could actually be myself without fear of judgement, so I guess I was pretty lucky.

The Art’s Award brought back that feeling for me. I could finally get along with my peers again, and that really has put me in a better place.

Obviously my mental health isn’t going to be fixed overnight, but I do feel a lot more confident in overcoming it, now. I also got to showcase my final piece in St John University, and it did attract a lot of positive attention, which felt amazing.

There was a lot of support in place within the Art’s Award, since it was run by the mental health charity, Mind.

Vicky Blakey, who ran the group, and Georgie, who helped out, were always on hand if I was having a rough time, and one-to-one sessions were put in place as often as possible, which was really helpful.

It gave us a voice if we were struggling, which a lot of places actually don’t provide as efficiently. I also managed to get counselling through Vicky’s connections, which is still on-going now, and is really effective.

The counsellor I have at Mind truly does make a difference, and I only wish I had this kind of weekly treatment a few years back when I was in darker places. Overall, it’s clear the Art’s Award has made a positive impact on my life.

‘Crucial to mental health provision’

’The most uplifting six (and a bit) months of my entire life so far‘
’The most uplifting six (and a bit) months of my entire life so far‘

Vicky Blakey, Young People’s mentor at York Mind said:

Rebecca’s powerful testimony illustrates perfectly why the Young People’s Project and the Arts Award are so crucial to mental health provision for young people in York.

If funding is lost, there are very few other places in York for people like Rebecca to turn.

Time To Talk Day

Time To Talk Day

York Mind stand is in the foyer of City of York Council’s West Offices HQ on Station Rise

Thurs Feb 4 @ noon-2pm

Meanwhile York Mind will be hosting an Information Stand at the City of York Council’s West Offices foyer on Thursday February 4 to celebrate Time To Talk Day.

The aim of the day is to get the nation talking about mental health to help end the misconceptions around it. 

“Mental health problems affect one in four people every year, yet too often people are afraid to talk about their experiences because they fear it will affect their jobs or relationships,” said Holly Pollard of York Mind:

“That’s not right and it’s why we need your help to break the silence and end the stigma. So please join us on Thursday.”