Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.08.11“We are all bananas” – that’s the message behind a North East mental health group’s new social media campaign.

Youth Speak has partnered with Middlesbrough filmmaker Laura Degnan to raise awareness of mental health issues and help young people to share their experiences and advice using the hashtag #weRallbananas. Laura Degnan said “It’s a tongue in cheek way of highlighting that everyone will be affected by mental health issues in some way at some point in their lives.”

In the spirit of the ice bucket challenge, the campaign aims to flood social media with positive messages and good advice for mental health – on bananas. By spreading awareness in this way, Youth Speak hopes to encourage other young people with mental health concerns to speak to somebody – and lots of the places young people can go to for support are signposted on the Youth Speak website at www.youthspeakmh.com.

Laura said: “We’re asking individuals and organisations around the North East region to go bananas with us across July. Please write your best bit of advice on a banana, take a selfie and post it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using our #weRallbananas hashtag and the message ‘My good advice 4 #weRallbananas. Visit www.youthspeakmh.com. Text donate MSMD10 £2 to 70070.’ Then nominate others to do the same, to help us get the word out about the website, which is packed with advice and information.”

Lauren Mawn, Youth Mental Health Researcher at Durham University said:
“Campaigns like this are so vitally important. We know that 70-80% of mental health disorders first onset in young adulthood. This is a tough period for young people and so it is important that they feel they can tell someone and get the advice, help and support they need.”

Youth Speak is attending events across the North East in July, to hand out bananas and information about where to find support. You’ll find further details about the #weRallbananas tour at  www.youthspeakmh.com.Youth Speak will be adding new stories to the website every week throughout July and August 2015. If you would like to share your story, please contact l.j.degnan@youthspeakmh.com.

This project is funded by The Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence Grant and regional Mind organisations are backing the campaign by providing extra drop-in sessions and support activities throughout July and August 2015. The Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is supporting the campaign and will exhibit a selection of the banana selfies towards the end of 2015.