10 October 2016


#IAMWHOLE is a new anti-stigma youth mental health campaign developed by NHS Brighton and Hove CCG in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council and YMCA Right Here, a local mental health project. The campaign is fronted by pop star Jordan Stephens, one half of UK music duo Rizzle Kicks, and is being supported by NHS England, the Department of Health and YMCA services across the country.

New YMCA research published today on World Mental Health Day 2016 in support of the #IAMWHOLE campaign reveals that just over one in three (38%) 11 to 24-year-olds with mental health difficulties from across the country say they experience stigma and that this takes many damaging forms, including social exclusion (54%) and verbal abuse (36%). More than half (54%) say this hurtful behaviour originates from friends.

Worryingly for the young people in Sussex who took part in the research, stigma also impacts on their willingness to ask for help, with 67% of those who felt stigmatised saying they were less likely to access professional support as a result. In addition, 67% said stigma negatively affected their school performance and 83% said it made them less likely to talk to others about their mental health.

Jordan Stephens is the first hip-hop artist to feature in an NHS campaign and has written a new track ‘Whole’ (from the Wildhood album ‘VERT’) about tackling mental health issues. The track features lyrics such as “I’ve been in a hole lately, fighting my own crazy…” and the #IAMWHOLE campaign features in the song’s music video, along with young people from Jordan’s childhood home of Brighton & Hove who have lived experience of mental health difficulties.

Developed in Brighton & Hove through a partnership between the city’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Brighton & Hove City Council and YMCA Right Here, a local mental health project for young people, the #IAMWHOLE campaign is being promoted by NHS and YMCA services across the country from today. Jordan launched the campaign with a live performance of ‘Whole’ in the new British Airways i360 on Brighton seafront in front of an audience of local school, college and university students.

The campaign is being supported by other high-profile names, including musician Ed Sheeran, James Corden, Dermot O’Leary and ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Faye Marsay, who are featured in the campaign video. Its launch will kick-start a social media campaign that will see people across the country posting ‘circle on hand’ selfies in support of the campaign’s anti-stigma message. Many of these supporters will be wearing branded sweatshirts and T-shirts personally designed by Jordan.

An #IAMWHOLE campaign video featuring Jordan and the campaign’s celebrity supporters is being shared on social media from today.

Jordan Stephens said: “The #IAMWHOLE campaign message that ‘together we are whole’ is so important and I am pleased to be launching it today on World Mental Health Day. My mum is a trained therapist so I’ve seen how important it is for people to get the right support and not to feel isolated. I’ve also had friends and people close to me seriously affected by mental health issues. I wrote ‘Whole’ to express how I was feeling at the bottom of a situation. When the NHS suggested it could be used to give other people a way of feeling less alone, man that felt really good.”

Dr Rebecca Jarvis, Clinical Lead for Mental Health for NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We created #IAMWHOLE to tackle mental health stigma in a way that speaks directly to young people, so that they feel as comfortable seeking help for a mental health issue as they would for a physical health condition such as asthma. One in ten children and young people experience mental health difficulties every year across the UK but we know that only 25% of those in need of effective mental health support are currently accessing it.”

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, the national council of YMCAs in England and Wales, said: “YMCA’s research backs up conversations we have had with young people in which they have told us mental health is one of the principle worries affecting their generation today. What is alarming from these findings is the widespread stigma young people are now seeing or experiencing from others that is making them less likely to seek professional help. That’s why I encourage everyone to support #IAMWHOLE to help overcome the stigma we have identified and the negative consequences young people are facing when trying to deal with their mental health difficulties alone.”

The #IAMWHOLE campaign is calling for the public to:

  • Challenge harmful language used to describe mental health difficulties so that young people can ask for help without fear of negative labels.
  • Ask for support from friends, parents, teachers, GPs or youth workers
  • Show support by joining the #IAMWHOLE movement on social media and posting ‘circle on hand’ selfies in support of the anti-stigma message
  • Find and get help by visiting www.findgetgive.com - a mental health services directory for young people created by YMCA’s Brighton & Hove Right Here project in partnership with other local groups. This site allows users to search for support, share stories about their own mental health and give feedback on services they have used for others to read. ‘Find Get Give’ also includes resources for parents and carers.

Dr Peter Wilkinson, Acting Director of Public Health at Brighton & Hove City Council said: “Most mental health problems start in the teenage years. We know that 50% of mental illness in adult life starts before the age of 15 and 75% by the time young people reach 18 years old. By raising awareness of the issues and support available, the #IAMWHOLE campaign aims to help teenagers and young adults look out for each other as well as making sure everyone knows where to go for professional advice if they need it.” 

Other findings from YMCA's research in Sussex include:

  • 80% of those questioned know someone who has experienced difficulties with their mental health
  • Anxiety (68%) and depression (55%) were the most common mental health conditions experienced by young people
  • Young people who believe stigma exists believe they can best tackle it by talking more about mental health (63%) and sharing their experiences (67%)
  • 87% of those who believe stigma exists say school is the best place to combat it

‘I AM WHOLE’ research was commissioned by YMCA with the fieldwork conducted by specialist youth research agency, YouthSight. The sample consisted of 2,072 interviews with young people aged between 11 and 24-years-old from across England and Wales. This was split into 1,098 who had experienced mental health difficulties and 974 who had not. The fieldwork was carried out in September 2016.