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Local youth project Mentality was presented with a Philip Lawrence Award at a special event, organised by crime reduction charity, Nacro, at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery last night. They were joined by Mrs Frances Lawrence MBE and the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Geoffrey Gollop, who presented Mentality with their award.

Launched in December 2009, Mentality is a youth leadership project concerned with challenging negative attitudes surrounding the issue of mental health, raising awareness about mental health problems, providing support and advice for young people, and opening up a frank public discussion. Aged between 13-19, Mentality members are committed to filling the gap that exists in the mental health information available to young people.

Mentality meet weekly to design and develop public mental health campaigns around reducing stigma and any other issues of importance they may choose, such as body image, dealing with anger, and coping with exam stress. After designing and developing materials in the form of badges or t-shirts, the group then take their message to any school, youth setting, festival or event that will have them, spreading the positive message that we all have mental health and it’s important to look after it.

Mentality has many plans for the future, including developing a resource book for young people with self help tips. They also plan to organise more events to raise awareness of mental health, to help schools improve their mental health services in Bristol, to set up a peer education programme in schools, and to keep attending as many public events as possible to raise awareness

Mentality project member, Laura Brain, said:

“The Mentality project has a huge ambition to end the negative stigma of mental health among young people in Bristol. This in itself is a hard challenge, but if you add the fact that these young people have their own challenges in life and that many are studying for GCSEs and A-levels, then this goal is particularly difficult to achieve.

“These young people turn up every week with great ideas and a passion to change people views on mental health. I am very proud of these young people and I nominated the Mentality team for this award to give them the recognition they deserve.”

Mrs Frances Lawrence MBE, said:

“Mentality has a unique vision and has taken tremendous steps to tackle the negative attitudes surrounding issues of mental health.”

Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Geoffrey Gollop, said:

“It’s an incredibly humbling experience to be here and it’s a real delight to be in this situation where I’m welcoming the Philip Lawrence Awards to Bristol to award a prize to a Bristol organisation. That makes me feel incredibly proud.

“We need to empower our young people to speak up for what they think is right and to actually argue their case and believe that their voice is important. I can tell you, as a councillor in this city, that the voice of young people is more important than any other voice, because you’re going to be around in the city for a lot longer than the rest of us and it is important that you say what you think and you find people who will listen to what you know, because it is your future.

“Very great thanks to you Frances for coming here and visiting us in our great city, great thanks to Nacro and the Home Office who have supported and made this possible, and most of all thank you to the all those from the Mentality project.”

The Philip Lawrence Awards, managed by the crime reduction charity, Nacro and supported by the Home Office, celebrate the positive contribution groups of young people make in their communities to counter crime, violence, bullying and racism, and challenge negative stereotypes.

Photograph by Chris Chronin