December 13, 2017  |  



Worldwide 10-20% of children and young people experience mental health difficulties.

Poor mental health is costing more and more children and young people their education and their employment prospects. And without action, it is costing them their lives.

Despite the considerable numbers affected, there is still a stigma associated with experiencing mental health difficulties.

This stigma prevents children and young from speaking out and seeking help, meaning many suffer in silence.

The #IAMWHOLE campaign was launched on World Mental Health Day in 2016 by YMCA England & Wales and partners with the aim of tackling mental health stigma and encouraging children and young people to speak out and seek help

Underpinned by YMCA England’s research as well as our own One Million Voices research this year we asked the wider movement to join the campaign on World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2017.

This year there were resource’s and information created to display and lead interactive sessions for YMCAs. These were produced in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian (all are still available to download). Perhaps the most effective way of engagement and joining in was to join the online campaign by taking a photo with a circle on your hand and using the hashtags. Major celebrities also encouraged this and it proved a quick and popular method of getting people involved from around.

Led by Johan and the Change Agents we called upon all YMCAs to join the campaign and stand with YMCAs worldwide with young people in challenging stigma and raising awareness.

This year saw the digital campaign extend to Albania, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Cameroon, Czech Republic, England & Wales, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, USA and Ukraine. While the final evaluation is being prepared early statistics show

  • The main campaign video gained more than 70,000 views, with a number of YMCAs producing their own video content in response.
  • 18 million people saw Tweets containing the #IAMWHOLE hashtag, from nearly 4,000 users posting about the campaign.
  • 6 million people saw Instagram posts containing the #IAMWHOLE hashtag

A special mention needs to go to the English Change Agents and Mike Bromfield for pushing the campaign and encouraging others from around the world to join, alongside Gerald Chifamba and Hanna Burbara our Resource group for health coordinators for their communication, time and energy in helping the campaign reach further.

Future plans for the resource group include having a working group to help scale national YMCA campaigns around health issues and if the response to the #IAMWHOLE campaign is an indicator of the power of the YMCA movement it will be very interesting to see what we can bring our collective voice to in the future.

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