I’m really excited about my second collection of poems for young people, which will be published by Troika in October.
It’s called ‘You Are Not Alone’, it’s aimed at teen and young adult readers, and it’s all about exploring mental health and wellbeing.
Young people’s mental health has never been so high on the public agenda, and rightly so. The statistics make for shocking reading – here are a few from The Children’s Society:
- 1 in 6 children aged 5-16 are likely to have a mental health problem
- 52% of 17 to 23 year olds have experienced a deterioration in mental health in the past five years
- 55% of 16-25 year olds have seen their GP about mental health at some point in their lives.
The good news is that our attitudes towards mental health are changing and there’s much less stigma around the subject than when I was a young person. Many of us talk more openly about our personal challenges, and many now seek support rather than struggling alone. Still, it’s far from easy, and our society’s expectations of us seem higher than ever. Young people in particular are under tremendous pressure to perform, to succeed, to excel and to strive to live up to unrealistic, media-led images of perfection.
So, there are still lots of dialogues to be had around mental health and wellbeing, and my hope is that the poems in the book will prompt conversations, questions and reflections on a whole range of topics – from what it’s like to live with different diagnosed mental health conditions, to the everyday personal challenges faced by young people, and how various aspects of our society might help or hinder our collective wellbeing.
I’m grateful to have received funding from Arts Council England‘s ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ programme to support work on the book.
Right now, I’m working with editor Roy Johnson and designer Wendy Mach to fine-tune the poems and create the book’s physical layout. We’ve just finalised the cover design, a collaboration between the three of us – we hope you like it!
If you’re an organisation working with young people to support their mental and emotional wellbeing, I’d love to hear from you. I’m interested in looking at how the poems in the book might help support conversations around young people’s mental health, and in developing a selection of media and resources to accompany the book. I’m also very open to receiving feedback on drafts of work-in-progress, particularly from young people. Please drop me a line if you’re up for a chat!