Supporting schools to see, hear and hold children and young people's mental wellbeing

Pioneering our Shadow On My Back Campaign a group of boys from Bedford Senior School challenged themselves in June this year to spend an entire school day with weighted back packs on their backs despite soaring temperatures outside.

Bedford School - Shadow On My Back

Pioneering our Shadow On My Back Campaign a group of boys from Bedford Senior School challenged themselves in June this year to spend an entire school day with weighted back packs on their backs despite soaring temperatures outside. The purpose of the campaign is to make visible the crippling and disabling impact of mental ill health - something that for many remains invisible and therefore goes unnoticed. As you will see from their comments, the boys became increasingly aware of how difficult it was trying to be 'normal' as they tried to carry out their every day tasks with the 'shadow' constantly weighing them down.

For so many children and young people, the reality of their daily struggle with mental health difficulties is something they feel extremely embarrassed and ashamed about. As a result, their struggle goes unnoticed and they are prevented from getting the help and support they need. By raising awareness of this reality and the invasive impact mental ill health has on every day living, we hope to encourage more children and young people to talk about their difficulties and get the support they need. We also hope to improve the understanding of friends, teachers, families etc. of those struggling with their mental health, so that they might be better equipped to give the support, care and understanding these children and young people so desperately need.

We are extremely proud of and grateful to the boys at Bedford School who pioneered our campaign. On behalf of all the children and young people out there who are struggling with their mental wellbeing, thank you for your support and for raising awareness of their every day struggles.

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"It was really interesting for many reasons. Wearing it all day at all times made me feel really uncomfortable as there was no break from it. Also walking around school, especially in the chapel, made me feel insecure which is what people with depression have to deal with." Charlie, Lower Sixth

"It was very hard to take with me, getting in the way of simple task like walking through doors. Also little Prep School kids would look at me weirdly. This really showed me the struggle of what it was like with having to struggle with mental health, as it can affect your everyday life." Matt, Lower Sixth

"It felt like an itch that you couldn't itch and it was very frustrating. Also, people were staring at you which made me feel out of place." Toby, Lower Sixth

"The thing I noticed is how many people you can see looking at you out of the corner of their eye. There were so many tasks that you wouldn't expect would be impacted but they actually were; it was harder than expected." Joe, Lower Sixth