Lola Young fronts new spoken word campaign on World Mental Health Day

New research released by the charity Mind on World Mental Health Day, has found that nearly a third of people in the West Midlands say they do not have the words to express how they are feeling when they are struggling with their mental health.

The study also revealed the majority of people – almost 68% – are turning to creative outlets to help them express their feelings when they are struggling with their mental health. Over two in five are listening to music and nearly a sixth are journalling their thoughts.

The figures come as Mind launches a powerful new spoken word film sharing the story of a young adult who experiences a mood disorder. The film, part of the charity’s “Speak To Us” campaign, features singer-songwriter, Lola Young who performs the story of 20-year-old Haleem Clift, who appears at the end of the footage. The campaign aims to change the way we think and speak about mental health problems and encourage people to get support.

The last couple of years have taken a huge toll on the nation’s mental health, not to mention the cost-of-living crisis now adding further strain. In addition, after years of under investment, the pandemic has pushed our mental health services to the brink of collapse. According to recent data, almost two million people are on waiting lists for mental health support, and a further eight million who would benefit from help, are not able to access it. 

Lola and Haleem joined forces to compose the spoken word piece and crafted it to reflect Haleem’s mental health problem which began when he was a teenager. Lola said:

“My mental health condition is my superpower, but I haven’t always seen it that way. We all experience life differently, and this goes for our mental health too, so I know how tough it can be to find the words to share what you’re going through. But it can be transformative when we do. 

“Being open about my mental health has helped me significantly. It’s enabled me to feel like there are people around me who can empathise with my experience and who are open to having a conversation about it. I’ve found this helps break down the stigma around mental health both socially and in my own mind. 

“I come from an artistic family, so have always appreciated the power of creativity and in fact, it was hearing another artists’ music that first empowered me to recognise my own mental health condition as the superpower that it is.

"My condition not only amplifies my creativity, but it also makes me who I am and helps give me a voice to express my emotions. I want to use it to help more people to understand my condition, as well as their own mental health and in turn, allow more of us to feel understood.   

“This is why it has meant so much to collaborate with Haleem and create this poem together. It really helps to meet someone with a similar experience. Haleem was so open and taught me a lot – it was a beautiful process.

"I’m excited to have been a part of bringing his story to life and I hope it’ll inspire others to share their own stories, in their own way, this World Mental Health Day.”

Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, added: “After an incredibly challenging couple of years with the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis, our mental health has taken a huge toll.

"We know that the earlier a person can get support for their mental health the more effective it’s likely to be. But we also know that, sometimes, finding the words to say how we feel is tough.

“This new research shows the power that creative outlets can have in supporting people with their mental health, in a way that resonates and perhaps feels more comfortable than talking might do.

“Through our series of spoken word films we want these stories to change the way we think and speak about mental health problems. We’re so grateful to everybody involved in creating these powerful films.” 

Haleem and Lola’s spoken word piece is the third in a series of campaign films produced by Mind and Langland agency. The other collaborations – launched in May for Mental Health Awareness Week - feature Croydon songwriter, Jords, with Rohan who has bipolar disorder; and James Smith, from Leeds rock band Yard Act, with Mel, who lives with mental health problems including bulimia and anxiety. 

For more information on Mind’s 'Speak to Us campaign', click here to visit the charity’s webpage


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