From the confused six-year-old who is living between two houses, to the grieving 11-year-old trying to manage their emotions. From the anxious fifteen-year-old battling with exam stress, to the withdrawn thirteen-year-old struggling to fit in. From the overwhelmed twelve-year-old who has carer responsibilities to the frustrated nine-year-old living with ADHD. It is not them against the world. They are the world. Every mind matters.
Young minds are like sponges, absorbing the experiences and emotions surrounding them. It’s our responsibility to ensure that these minds are nurtured with love, understanding, and the tools they need to navigate the complex world of emotions.
The annual Schools’ Mental Health Festival was recently held to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. This large-scale event covered many essential themes, from promoting kindness to addressing anxiety and self-esteem and building resilience.
One of the festival’s driving forces was the Mental Health Multi Agency Forum, uniting various organisations such as the GHA, Government Staff Well Being, ChildLine, Club House, and of course, ourselves at GibSams. This collaboration emphasises the power of working together to create a better, more supportive environment for our community’s young members. It’s a shining example of how we can achieve more when we join hearts and minds.
The aim of the festival was to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and shine a light on the current needs and issues of Gibraltar’s children and youth. Another objective was to create change and enhance access to quality mental health services and support for everyone who needs them.
Various talks and activities were held in schools across Gibraltar that resonated deeply with the students, encouraging open conversations about feelings and offering insights into managing stress, anxiety, and the more complex topics like self-harm and suicide.
Our schools, Government, local organisations, and community champions have come together to send a resounding message to Gibraltar’s youth: we are here for you. It is clear that all involved in this initiative recognise the importance of prioritising mental health for our young people.
GibSams listeners were on hand throughout the week to support any young person who was impacted by the talks, emphasising that it’s okay to reach out and seek help when needed.
We echo the sentiment of the festival which is the need to create an environment where children feel they can talk freely, without judgement; where they feel like their experiences and emotions are valid; and where they are equipped with the tools and support services they need to safely address their challenges.
It’s vital to educate and encourage the development of emotional awareness and intelligence from a young age and to eliminate the feeling of shame around what we perceive as “negative” emotions such as sadness or anger.
GibSams stands as a pillar of support in Gibraltar. Our involvement in the Schools Mental Health Festival and our ongoing efforts in the community are critical and offer a lifeline to those who may be struggling in silence. Our trained and compassionate listeners, like all the professionals who contributed to the festival, are dedicated to making sure that no one feels alone in their journey toward mental wellbeing.
The emotional charge surrounding the Festival reminds us that there is still work to be done, but there is a strong sense of hope that assures us that we are on the right path. Together, we are moving towards a community that embraces mental health and wellbeing as a top priority. We want to ensure that our young people remain a central focus in that quest.
We know we can’t do it alone and are calling on all family and community leaders, volunteers, fundraisers and partners and to join us. There are many ways to get involved, offer support and make a difference. If you’d like to know more about the work we do then visit our website: https://gibsams.gi/ You can read the full Government press release from the Schools’ Mental Health Festival here: https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/press-releases/schools-mental-health-festival-7142023-9310