Local schools join in #Just Talk mental health campaign week

Published: 11 Nov 2019

Schools across the county are organising a range of activities to encourage young people to have conversations about mental health for Hertfordshire’s Just Talk campaign week that runs from 18-24 November.

They will be hosting assemblies as well as PE and art lessons themed around mental health, showing short films created by school children to support the campaign, and running classroom activities such as quizzes, as well as parent information events.

More than 70 primary and secondary schools will be taking part in Hertfordshire’s award-winning #Just Talk campaign which has been co-designed with young people.

The campaign aims to encourage children and young people to learn how to look after their mental health, and to open up and talk about things that are worrying them before they escalate into a crisis.

Young people in Hertfordshire have told us that exams and tests are their number one worry, so they chose this topic as the theme for our annual short film competition. We’re inviting them to come up with a storyboard idea on ‘How to cope with exam pressure’ with the aim of helping their peers manage stress as the mock exam season approaches. Winners will get to work with a professional film-maker to turn their idea into a short film and receive £100 in vouchers. Competition entry details are available at: www.justtalkherts.org where you can also watch last year’s brilliant winning films for inspiration.

A free #JustTalk toolkit is also available online to help schools, colleges, sports clubs or any other agency working with young people run activities throughout the week and share the key campaign messages: ‘It’s ‘OK not to be OK’ and ‘Talking shows strength’.

Cameron, a pupil at The Reach Free School in Rickmansworth, explains: “Mental health isn’t something that will just go away. Just Talk has been able to open the eyes of people so they realise that mental health is always there, it’s always present and it’s the maintenance of that mental health that’s so vitally important.”

Fellow student Luke, adds: “Just Talk has made me and a lot of my friends a lot more comfortable speaking about our issues to each other.”

Anthony Smith, Deputy Head Teacher at The Reach Free School explains how the school has implemented Just Talk: “Talking about mental health shows strength, not weakness. If we can get that message into each and every one of our pupils, then they will be able to access support when they need it.”

Hertfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Jim McManus said: “Schools are important partners in our award-winning Just Talk campaign, actively encouraging children and young people to feel comfortable talking about their mental health and letting them know that it’s fine to reach out for support if they are struggling to cope.

“The earlier that young people raise any worries that they may have, whether it’s exam stress or relationships with their peers, the earlier something can be done to help.”

The Just Talk campaign has also received the backing of role models and sports people, including Watford FC players, Christian Kabasele and Abdoulaye Doucouré, broadcaster Iain Lee and BBC3 Counties presenter Andy Holmes.

To help spread the word among schools about the positive impact that Just Talk can have on the mental health of young people, we have also created a new video with input from pupils and teachers from The Reach Free School in Rickmansworth.

For more information about the campaign and free downloadable copies of the toolkit and other resources, please visit www.justtalkherts.org

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #JustTalk