Groundbreaking festival to tackle youth mental health crisis comes to Edinburgh

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The first-of-its-kind event is set to take place on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, and will include primary and high school pupils from across the city.

The Now and Beyond festival aims to facilitate free virtual sessions between schools and local mental health and wellbeing hosts.

Edinburgh’s Teapot Trust has been confirmed as co-hosts for the event which will feature workshops from psychologists, music therapists and yoga teachers.

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Festival volunteer from Edinburgh Louisa Rose has encouraged schools across the Capital to sign up for the event.
Festival volunteer from Edinburgh Louisa Rose has encouraged schools across the Capital to sign up for the event.

Mental health charity Beyond is running the festival in partnership with the annual mental health awareness event Inside Out Day.

Co-founder of Beyond Jonny Benjamin MBE said supporting young people’s mental health should be a priority in light of the added pressures caused by Covid-19.

A new report from Barnardos which examined the impact of Covid-19 on people’s wellbeing found that the virus and measures used to contain it have had a disproportionate impact on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Benjamin MBE said: “Young people’s mental health must be prioritised now more than ever before in light of Covid-19.

“Too many young people are struggling in silence with their wellbeing and not getting the help and support that they need.

“Inside Out Day and Beyond aims to change this and give youth mental health the spotlight it deserves.”

This event has been launched as figures from Public Health Scotland, published in September 2020, reveal a sharp increase in the number of youths waiting to access services.

As of June 2020 there are 2,482 young people waiting to be seen by mental health professionals in Lothian, compared to 1,277 in January to March 2020, an increase of 94 percent.

The same report revealed that six out of 10 children and young people with referrals in Lothian are having to wait more than 18 weeks to be seen by a mental health professional.

The findings, which raised alarm bells across schools in the city, were described as ‘heartbreaking’ by Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP.

Festival organisers said the impact on the health crisis is already being felt by young people which is why events like Now and Beyond are of paramount importance at this time.

Founder of Inside Out Day Johanna Novick said mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing society at the moment.

She added: “Social media can often disguise reality making everyone else look like they’re happy and leading wonderful lives, even when they’re not. We just want to let children know it’s OK not to be OK and that no-one is perfect, even though they may look at it.”

Applications remain open for volunteers and schools wishing to participate, festival organisers have encouraged all city schools to get involved in this milestone event.

Mental health advocate and festival volunteer Louisa Rose said: “If you’re an Edinburgh based school, or you work in children’s mental health, sign up to our website to take part in this moment of unique collaboration.”

If you’re a school, or a mental health or wellbeing facilitator keen to volunteer your time for this landmark moment, head to www.nowandbeyond.org.uk for more details.

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