MiLife is an innovative new programme for young people to teach them about positive mental health and dispel the common myths and misconceptions that exist. MiLife is aimed at 11–16 year olds.
It aims to raise awareness through education to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.
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The MiLife programme was started following the 2015 Epping Forest Youth Conference. Young people who attended listed mental health as one of the top issues concerning them.
The MiLife Roadshow visits secondary schools in the Epping Forest district. Pupils watch a theatre piece acted out by the Red Balloon Family theatre group which tackles issues relevant to them. Thoughout the performance an explanation of positive mental health and building resilience gives the pupils the tools to support themselves and their peers.
Additional support is offered to any young person who feels that they would benefit.
A website designed to be safe and secure for young people to go to for help and advice has been set up.
Youth Councillors from Epping Forest Youth Council helped design MiLife, working with
- North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT)
- Epping Forest District Council (EFDC)
- The Red Balloon Family
- Essex County Council (ECC)
A healthy and happy mind
EFYC Youth Councillor Matthew Tinker was involved in the project from its beginning said: “The MiLife project is a really great youth led project that has allowed the young people of Epping Forest to understand their own personal mental health in greater detail.
The project aims to give young people a greater understanding of what to do if they feel mentally ill but also how to help themselves keep a healthy and happy mind. I strongly believe greater mental awareness will lead to a reduction in youth crime rates as young people can understand now when they need to see professional support.”
“I am so proud of our project and the great impact it is having on my peers and my friends.”
Help address mental health issues
Mrs Lorna Rolfe, High Sheriff of Essex met with youth councillors and praised them for being so advanced in addressing mental health. She said: “I was delighted to visit Epping Forest’s Youth Council on Tuesday evening at their monthly Council meeting. They, along with NHS NELFT gave an excellent presentation about their project MiLife. I was impressed by their knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm.”
“This is a dynamic group of young people who are in tune with their fellow students and are giving their time freely in order to help address mental health issues. We know that the Prime Minister has recently stated that tackling child mental health is a priority but Epping Forest Youth Council have already recognised the problem and are in schools now, confronting this scourge of modern life with imaginative, positive and insightful solutions.”
“Their initiative deserves nothing but praise and encouragement and I wish them every success with their endeavours.”
Interactive DIY care package
Diane Butler, EFDC Youth Engagement Officer said: “The MiLife web page includes an interactive DIY care package called a MiBox, a box with items that provide comfort and help to lift moods when feeling down. The MiBox can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to the young person.”
Digital innovations in young peoples mental health
Emma Selby from the Emotional wellbeing and mental health service at NELFT said: “We pride ourselves on our digital innovations in young peoples mental health and we are so excited to be collaborating with Epping Forest Youth Council on making their fantastic MiLife roadshow a National Resource. The youth councillors have worked incredibly hard and produced a top class resource that we believe every young person would benefit from accessing.”
Delighted at their response
Debbie Lake Deputy head teacher from Davenant Foundation School said: “The EFYC’s roadshow MiLife was such a success. All years appreciate the presentation, they responded to the both the content and techniques adopted by the team. We were surprised and delighted at their response.”
“The involvement of local students through the Epping Forest Youth Council brought a reality to the presentations and content which got through to students. To see Joseph Pascoe one of our own students actively involved in the day and instrumental in its planning gave our students confidence in the team. Thank you to all the organisations and individuals involved.”
A training pack for teachers and youth workers is available so they can continue the discussion and include practical self-help tips.
Find out more at the MiLife website at www.milife.org.uk or call Di Butler Youth Engagement Officer on 01992 564365.