This World Mental Health Day, we wanted to take this opportunity to recognise and thank a very special person.
Earlier this year, Josh, a student from Portsmouth got in touch with us to ask about raising money for Solent Mind. Little did we know that his project would raise much more than just vital funds, and go on to inspire the students and staff of Portsmouth College and beyond.
Josh’s feelings of depression began when he was 14 following the loss of his Grandfather. Finding it hard to cope, Josh turned to self-harm and struggled with the ups and downs of school and college life. With the help and support of family, friends and his college, Josh started his road to recovery.
Josh soon started documenting his journey online using the medium of selfies. He found that sharing his good days and bad days had a therapeutic effect, and visually recorded his own progress. It also connected him to a growing audience of other young people who were now inspired to talk about their own mental health issues.
In turn, his new audience inspired him to take his love of selfies and start a project to raise awareness and funds for mental health and trusted local services.
Josh says, “I decided that if I wanted to raise awareness and money for charities, I wanted to do something I already love. I’m passionate about taking selfies because you are creating memories, and I wanted other people to experience that and be part of my journey.”
At Christmas 2017, Josh started a festive selfie booth and invited students and staff to come along, create memories and spread the word online. The event was so popular that Josh made another selfie booth and all-day fundraising event in March 2018, raising £233.73 for Solent Mind.
In May, Josh’s commitment to raising awareness and fundraising for mental health was recognised when he won Portsmouth College’s Principal’s Award. Andy Wood from our Portsmouth Wellbeing Centre also attended the presentation event and explained the impact that Josh’s project will have on our local services.
Now 19, Josh is in his fourth year at college and is looking to pursue a career supporting others with their mental health. On 10th October 2018, Josh will be stepping closer to this goal by leading a presentation at Portsmouth College, covering his own mental health journey and the achievements of the selfie project.
Josh’s presentation is especially powerful due to this year’s World Mental Health Day theme; Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. The way in which Josh has used modern technology to aid his own recovery and inspire others, makes Josh an incredibly imaginative and inspirational young person.
Josh says, “This is the biggest opportunity yet to showcase what I’m doing, and maybe could lead to bigger and better things. I just want to inspire others and make my late Grandad proud.”
Happy World Mental Health Day, Josh! From all our staff, volunteers and those we support across Hampshire every day, thank you.
To follow Josh’s progress, please take a look at his Facebook Page.
You can find out about the work we do with young people, here.