#SpeakUpLeeds campaign encourages black boys to open up about their mental health

On World Mental Health Day (10 October), and during Black History Month, MindMate will launch the #SpeakUpLeeds campaign, in partnership with Forum Central, Leeds City Council, Magpie and Black Lives Matter Leeds.

Speak Up Leeds encourages black boys aged 10 to 18 to open up about their personal experiences as a black boy, and how this affects their mental health. The campaign was inspired by the Black Boy Joy movement, which was created to show positive images of happy black boys, to reinforce confidence and support the right for them to be happy.

As part of the campaign, a short film will feature five students from Carr Manor Community School sharing their own personal experiences with their mental health. Every aspect of the campaign, from the name to the final campaign designs, was inspired by and created with this group of boys.

Mahmod, 14, a student from Carr Manor Community School, talks about the importance of having positive images of black boys, and the effect the negative portrayal can have on their mental health: “They’ll think ‘there’s a black boy doing this or that’ and always assume it’s something wrong. That could affect you because you might see videos of black boys getting racially abused just because of the colour of their skin.

“That could make you worried as you think, ‘well, I’m a black boy – what if one day that could happen to me?”

Marvina Newton, Mental Health Ethnic Inequalities Lead (Children and Young People) at Forum Central, said: “Speak Up Leeds (Black Boy Joy) has been a fantastic way to really get into the mindset of young black men aged 10-18. We’ve looked at what takes away their joy, and where they go to when that joy is taken.

“The highlight of this project was getting to understand the importance of allowing black boys to be in a space of happiness in a bid to protect their mental health, and build resilience with ways they can cope. When the media and society shows how black boys are treated, it can really affect their mental health.

“Working with Leeds City Council, MindMate, Magpie and BLM Leeds, we’ve been able to work with boys in school, as well as community settings and personal spaces such as youth groups and barber shops. The project showed us what matters to black boys, and the inequalities they face. It gave us the opportunity to understand how we can become allies, act on these inequalities, and unlearn our own unconscious bias.

“We invite you to join the Speak Up Leeds campaign, and attend the film screening on World Mental Health Day to listen to these amazing young men speak their truths.”

The full film will be screened at Kinder Leeds Festival, alongside a Q&A session with the boys featured in the film, on World Mental Health Day (Monday 10 October), 4.30-6.00pm.

For mental health advice, resources, and information about local support services for children and young people, visit www.mindmate.org.uk.

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