NCS: Time to change

If your friend is acting differently, step in – young people urged in new mental health campaign

National Citizen Service (NCS) Social Action Star award nominees ‘The A-Team’, made up of teenagers from across Northumberland, have urged their peers to ‘step in’ if they see a friend acting differently.
alt 'A-Team' taken their phase one residential.

A new campaign, called Time to Change kicks off a four year campaign today to encourage young people to be more open to the topic of mental health and to be in their mate’s corner.

With 1 in 10 young people fighting a mental health problem in any given year, the campaign, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is asking young people to ‘step in’ to support their friends.

The new campaign highlights that you don’t have to be an expert to be in your mates’ corner and has launched a series of short, high-impact films, each focusing on different steps that young people can take to be there for a friend struggling with their mental health:

  1. Reach out. A text or call goes a long way
  2. Listen don't judge
  3. Do something together
  4. Be there
  5. Do small acts

‘The A-Team’ took part in NCS last summer, getting to know each other during residential phases of the programme before putting their time towards planning and delivering their own social action project.

The group of teenagers, from across Northumberland, beat hundreds of NCS youth social action projects from across England and Northern Ireland back in January to be shortlisted for the Social Action Star Award. The team raised over £200 for MIND and created a hard-hitting online video for local community paediatricians and clinicians, teaching packs for secondary schools in Northumberland and leaflets and wristbands to promote their ‘Speak Up Silent Voices’ campaign.

Team member Naomi Sloan, 17 of Haltwhistle, said:

“The way the campaign pieced together in such a short amount of time made me so proud of what we achieved.”

Now, the teenagers have put their backing to MIND and Rethink Mental Illness new campaign, urging their peers to step in if they see a friend acting out of character.

Daniel Spratt, 16 of Seaton Deleval, said:

“If I was worried about a friend’s mental health, I would say ‘I think you may need to go and see a GP. I’m here if you need any extra help.’”

Jess Laidler, 16 of Prudhoe, would also take a supportive position with any friend in need.

“Keeping a positive atmosphere around them provides an escape and a distraction from themselves,” she said.

“You also need to build their confidence in order to make them feel comfortable to speak to others, but only in their own time. Positivity, trust, care and maybe a few laughs is key to helping someone.”

Previous research carried out by Time to Change into young people’s experiences of mental health problems showed:

  • 9 out of 10 young people experienced negative treatment from others because of their mental health problem(s).

  • When asked about the impact of negative reactions to their mental health problem, 54% said it stopped them hanging out with friends; 40% said it stopped them going to school and the same number said it stopped them having a relationship (40%)

  • 49% said the fear of stigma (how people think and act about mental health) had prevented them telling their family about their mental health problem and 71% said it had stopped them telling their friends.

We hope this helps!