Rob Bell, from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, offers his thoughts on why we’re running the Labs project
This is an unusual place for me to be on a Saturday. Normally around this time I’d be playing in a park somewhere with my two boys, having fun, not a care in the world.
The oldest is 4 years old and his brother has just turned 1 – according to the oldest, the little one is now officially “a number”. Both have fine mental health…I think. I hope they will always feel they can talk to me about the things going on in their lives, their hopes and fears.
I hope they will both be able to cope with the stress, strain and uncertainty of growing up, and becoming less dependent on us. They will have friends to support and guide them, they will be self aware, and able to express how they feel about things. But as I write this, I realise how many assumptions I am making and what a fine line most people tread between mental health that is ‘good’ and mental health that makes life a bit more tricky.
The reason I am here, and that the Paul Hamlyn Foundation has decided to work with the Mental Health Foundation in supporting young people, is that young people themselves ought to, and can, play a major role in shaping the future – shaping what services there are for those who need help with mental health, shaping how we all understand and talk about mental health, and shaping the way that a whole range of organisations (youth services, social services, schools, libraries) think much more creatively about what they can do to help young people become resilient, and seek help when they need it.
I really hope that as my boys grow up they are comfortable talking about their mental health: that there isn’t stigma in admitting you need help; that young people are open, and able to help one another; and above all, that all the services we pay for properly listen to young people and design ways of helping that really work.
Rob is the Social Justice Programme Manager at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation