North End teenager launches mental health campaign to signpost young people to support services

A MENTAL health campaign to help ease the anxiety of lockdown has been launched by a Portsmouth teenager on a mission to help others.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 3:38 pm

Reach Out Covid Campaign was initiated by Portsmouth College student Ellie Benford to signpost people aged 13 to 25 to organisations continuing to provide services over the phone or digitally.

The idea came about when the college closed, because the 18-year-old could not access her own usual mental health services, and wanted to help others get support.

Ellie, from North End, said: ‘I set it up because my college was closed, I lost my own mental health support. I wanted to help others and find some information for myself.

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Ellie Benford, 18 from North End, has launched Reach Out Covid Campaign to signpost young people to mental health services

‘I think it gives me more of a drive because I know how it feels and I don’t want other people to feel like that.’

The ex-Mayfield School student is a volunteer at The Mix, a service that offers essential support for under 25s, where she sits on their Youth Voice Panel.

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‘The opportunity for a rapid response grant from the global change organisation, Peace First, was advertised to us and I immediately felt that I could relate to this project,’ said Ellie.

‘I submitted an application and had a virtual online meeting with a member of Peace First to discuss my ideas before I successfully received the grant.’

Launched during Mental Health Week, the first part of the campaign includes sharing self care techniques. Ellie, with help from friends, also posts details of support organisations and has been collecting young people’s stories to draw attention to people’s experiences.

Ellie has been sharing her campaign with schools and colleges across the UK in an attempt to reach more people who may need help and support with the difficulties of the pandemic.

Ellie, who is hoping to study psychology and neuroscience at University of Reading in September, said: ‘I think there’s a lot of attention on physical health at the moment and people don’t believe mental health needs are as important at the moment.

‘I just want it to help people who might need it.’

Reach Out Covid Campaign can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or you can email the team at [email protected]

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