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Young Londoners will be at the forefront of a virtual festival hosted by the Mayor of London's Peer Outreach Team and Thrive LDN to mark World Mental Health Day 2020. Taking place on 10 October, the World Mental Health Day Festival online programme is designed...

Young Londoners will be at the forefront of a virtual festival hosted by the Mayor of London’s Peer Outreach Team and Thrive LDN to mark World Mental Health Day 2020.

Taking place on 10 October, the World Mental Health Day Festival online programme is designed to support young people build resilience and promote positive wellbeing. The festival also aligns and coincides with Black History Month.

The festival initiative follows research that participation in creative arts and culture has been shown to improve mental health and wellbeing. The festival organisers have described this year’s event as ‘more important than ever before’.

Several panel discussions will feature as part of the festival’s programme, covering topics such as culture, sport, social inequalities and creating a fairer society.

In a pre-recorded interview, Sanah Ahsan, a community psychologist, award-winning poet and all-round disrupter, sat down with Jumoké Fashola, BBC radio presenter, journalist, vocalist and actor.

In a powerful and intimate exchange, the pair explored how we can encourage vulnerability in our communities, especially breaking down the trope that women of colour must be strong or powerful. The conversation will be premiered as part of the festival’s programme.

The festival will also feature a collection of pre-recorded spoken word, poetry and music recorded at London’s Young Vic theatre. The line-up includes young artists such as Grime MC Laughta, who featured in BBC Three’s, Galdem Sugar, Rakaya Fetuga, winner of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam in 2018, and Woodzy, a Flo Poet who has reached close to a million views of his 90’s Baby poem.

Research has shown that young people (18-24 years old) were more likely to report stress arising from the pandemic than the population as a whole.

Insights on mental health needs of young Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people using Kooth, a digital mental health support service, have shown greater increases in depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts than white peers during Covid-19 pandemic. Thrive LDN is partnering with Kooth for the festival’s first workshop.

The various discussions, workshops and performances will offer a virtual platform for young people to discuss the challenges faced during Covid-19 and explore shared experiences of inequality and issues raised through the Black Lives Matter movement.

Panel discussions and workshops will ask young people what we can do collectively to overcome barriers and support one another.

Kamahl Miller and Queenie Chizea, both young Londoners and members of the Peer Outreach Team at City Hall, have been leading on the development of the event.

Kamahl said: “Too many young people are facing uncertainty – so much in the last six months has impacted our mental health and futures like nothing before.

“I’m pleased we have been able to put together an online festival which will provide a great opportunity for young people to share experiences, learn from each other and discover more about the support available in an entertaining way.”

Queenie added:“This year’s World Mental Health Day Festival is more important than ever before. The day will create an opportunity to tackle the stigma around mental health for young people and opens up conversations on breaking down barriers, building resilience and the importance of having a sense of community.

“It’s a great opportunity to also support London’s young artists, performers and content creators.”

Taking place from midday on 10 October, the festival is open to all and free to access. Some live workshops may require pre-registration, a full programme can be found via www.thriveldn.co.uk.

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