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Young people explore mental health through animation

Date Created: 13th May 2024

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Artswork has been working with young people from Enham’s Skills 2 Achieve programme in Portsmouth, and a common concern for the young people turned out to be mental health and how it affected them. In response to their concerns, Artswork collaborated with Digital Voice for Communities, enabling the young people to create animated films to express their views. The young people created their own digital avatars – Digital Me, and worked hard on individual scripts to express their personal views of what mental health means to them. Each young person has their own short video, and Digital Voice edited a DigitalMe compilation montage to highlight the main points and common themes, which you can view below. 


We spoke with Julie, the Managing Director of Digital Voice for Communities  about the project to learn a bit more about the process.  

Artswork: What was the animation process like and what were the steps involved?

Digital Voice: Laura, our digital artist met the group and they had in depth discussions about mental health; their own and generally for young people.  DigitalMe is our flagship programme that asks people to consider what changes they would like to see around an issue: 


Artswork: Was it engaging for young people ?   

Digital Voice: They engaged really well during the process; creating their scripts, drawing their own avatar, drawing backgrounds digitally and recording their scripts.  


Artswork: Was the process empowering for young people and how? What was the overall impact?  

Digital Voice: Yes, there was a lot of creative freedom in the drawing process and of course in what they said about mental health. The overall impact on them was to have been listened to and to have the space to be creative, work as a group and create something together that was really impactful. 


Artswork: Much of it is in the video but what insights did Digital Voice gain about the young people’s perspective on mental health throughout this process?  

Digital Voice: That it is a massive issue that affects so many; that the young people’s ideas were really wise, as to how to change things and should be done! 


Artswork: What do you think has been the most powerful thing to come from the project? 

Digital Voice: The young people’s thoughts on how mental health should be dealt with were really clear and we hope that decision-makers hear them and act upon them. 


Artswork: Why do you think it’s important to hear directly from young people about mental health?

Digital Voice: So often in society young people aren’t given the chance to be heard- this partnership with Artswork and Skills2Achieve has empowered them to speak out and what they say is really valid- we should listen to young people more. 


Artswork: Has anything surprised or inspired you?

Digital Voice: The level of creativity was amazing and the young people’s comments inspired me; I was blown away by their wisdom around mental health. 


We also heard from our Creative Skills Programme Manager, Judith who was leading the project for Artswork: 

“For me, the project has delivered extremely powerful individual messages. The young people’s personal experience means they are extremely articulate, and their thoughts are focused. I am impressed both by their honesty in sharing difficult situations and by their considered advice for others in the same situation. The DigitalMe format has also allowed them to use a creative approach which makes their messages even more impactful.” 


Artswork CEO, Louise Govier also discussed the significance of empowering youth voice in this way.

It’s really important that we enable young people to tell us how life is for them, both so they can ‘speak their truth’ and so changes that might help can be made. Creative approaches can provide young people with ways to explore and express their feelings, as well as anonymity so they feel safer to speak up.” 


Finally, we would like to share some feedback we received for the video that was shared to our peers, friends and professionals below.  

“I’m blown away by this. It’s an incredible piece of work. Brave young people sharing their challenges. Love it…Such a tough topic to cover (especially for the lads), but their honesty and recognition of how it feels for them is really moving. What a positive way of allowing them to express themselves. Massive respect.” 


“ So important to give young people a voice to express how they feel when dealing with mental health problems, and great positive advice at the end.” 


“Wow that’s incredible, for them to open up so much about their trauma and give such a raw insight into what they’re going through. It’s so hard to imagine what life is like for young people when you’re not a young person, it’s so eye opening. And to think that’s all going on in their heads when most of us only see such passing glimpses of young people, their heads down looking at phones. And they gave such wise advice (clearly very hard earned). They should all feel very proud.”  


We are grateful towards everyone involved in this project and show special appreciation to the young courageous people who shared their voices and experiences.  


This project is supported by public funding from Arts Council England. 


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