Teens talk about mental health

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Two local teenagers have been speaking about their battle with mental illness for a special film.

The local girls are promoting mental well-being through dance in the film, as figures show more than 20 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland will suffer from mental health issues by the time they turn 18.

The teenagers are encouraging youngsters to find a hobby they love, such as dance, in order to make friends and have fun.

They have teamed up with Fixers, the charity that gives young people a voice, to make a film featuring a performance about mental health issues.

Laura Kelly, 16, from Portstewart told us her story.

The teenager said: “When I was younger, I went through a bit of a tough time.

“I was feeling really insecure about myself and I felt really alone. I thought I was weird, and that no-one else felt the way that I did.”

Another local teenager, Toni Boorman, 17, from Portrush, explained more about what the film portrays: “The dance represents mental health, and each dancer is going through a different issue such as self-harm, depression, eating disorders.

“It’s a really great way to express your emotions without actually having to say anything.

“We want people to know that things do get hard in life, but you can always find a way to escape.”

“Dance, sport, art or any kind of physical or mental activity can offer you an escape from daily life and its struggles.If you can get interested in a hobby or find something that you’re really passionate about, you can get lost in a realm of happiness.”

Imelda McLeod, Clinical Services Manager at Northern Trust’s Eating Disorders Service, supports the group’s campaign.

She says: “It’s reckoned that in the UK about one in three people will suffer from an eating disorder, self-harming or some sort of addiction problem.

“From 2013 to the present day, we’ve had treble the amount of referrals that we had in 2012.

“I think that speaks volumes about the pressures on young people today.”

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK. For more information or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk