I have been coming to the YMCA Youth Club in Bandywood since it opened nearly two years ago. I love going to club as I get to meet up with my friends and take part in activities that I never thought I would be able to.
When the Virtually Minded project first started, I knew it was something that I wanted to get involved with because my Mom suffered a lot with poor mental health years ago and it is a topic that I have always wanted to learn more about. At the start of the five week training, I was happy to talk about my Mom’s mental health battle but scared to talk about my own. By talking to the Virtually Minded staff each week, I realised that by talking about my own story, I could become a virtual hero and help other boys like me; I began to feel more comfortable and started to open up more.
I told staff that when my Grandad died 2 years ago, I was battling with my own suicidal thoughts. The main role model who used to be in my life, had now gone and I felt like a small 10 year old boy in the big wide world. I was also being bullied at school which added to the pressure and my Grandad, my main protector in life, couldn’t give me advice or help me. I had to fight my own battles. At the time, just being with my Grandad just seemed like the easiest option.
I overheard my Mom having a conversation and telling her friend that ‘her kids were the reason she asked for help with her own mental health problem.’ That’s when I realised that even though suicide seemed like an easy option, I would be hurting my friends and family.
By attending the Virtually Minded sessions, staff have helped me to use coping strategies when I’m feeling low with my own mental health. Virtually Minded is definitely a ‘safe space’ where I feel as though I can talk about any of my problems. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m now able to talk about my ‘suicidal secret’.

For more information about Virtually Minded, contact Hannah on 0121 354 5614 or hannahcleveley@ymcasc.org.uk.