The Time to Change Wales Young People’s Programme is the first national pilot aimed at tackling mental health stigma amongst young people in Wales. The Programme was delivered by Hafal and Mind Cymru.

To mark the end of our three-year pilot Programme, we held a ‘Lunch and Learn’ event on Wednesday 10 July at the Urdd Building in Cardiff Bay, to celebrate and highlight its achievements, evidence and learnings.

Our mission was to raise awareness of mental health wellbeing amongst young people by eradicating the stigma and discrimination which we know they face, using a peer-led approach to increase understanding of mental health and an empathy towards those experiencing mental health problems.

Our Programme achievements include training and supporting 54 Young Champions in Wales, delivering interventions to 3,000 young people within school settings, supporting 27 employers in signing the youth employer pledge and reaching over 1,000,000 individuals through our #WeCanWeWill social media campaign.

Our keynote speaker, Leanne Wood AM, opened our event by addressing the importance of tackling mental health stigma amongst young people in Wales. She said: “The success of the campaign has helped to promote better understanding of mental health and a greater empathy for those people with a mental health condition. I hope that this is just the start and that the Young People’s Programme, with its impressive record over the course of this pilot project, has justified the case for expansion. Every child in every corner of Wales deserves to benefit from this."

We also heard from Osian Griffiths, Deputy Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda, who shared his experience on their whole school approach in raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and talked about how vital it is to continue supporting our young people at every stage of their mental health. Time to Change Wales staff and Champions were also present to share their experience of participating in the Programme.

Sara Mosely, Director of Mind Cymru presented some of the key learnings, commenting that; “Empathy is what will change the way you interact with the world around you and what happens within your own life. Children and young people want more help and need more care. It’s a very important message to Government as they prepare plans for the new curriculum.”

Alun Thomas, Chief Executive of Hafal discussing the legacy of the Programme said that, “We actually know what works. It may be small scale but it’s the group of young people who have been able to tell us what they feel, what it means and how it has impacted them. This is a campaign that is delivered and evaluated by young people.”

Our pilot uncovered how prevalent the experience of mental health problems are amongst young people, with as many as 1 in 5 young people surveyed as part of the pilot noting experience of a mental health problem. Through adopting a lived experience model featuring young Welsh Champions, our pilot succeeded in increasing empathy amongst pupils and demonstrated how they connect with the real-life experiences of their peers.

The Young People’s Programme will come to an end in August 2019 and will leave a lasting legacy in the hands of the young people who are best placed to drive it. Beyond August, Time to Change Wales will continue to drive the anti-stigma agenda forward through our Adult Campaign working with Champions to amplify the anti-stigma message across society at large.

Time to Change Wales is grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for funding this pilot and to our Champions and schools for their participation. We hope that our research and insights will be valuable for any future anti-stigma initiatives with young people in Wales.

If you would like to find out more about our work with young people, please click here to read our full report.

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