HOW IT BEGAN
A PERSONAL STORY
During his final year of school, a teenage boy had spiralled into a depression. He found this painfully ironic, as he had spent the last two years raising awareness about the very issue of mental health.
Although he knew it was important to open up, the stigma and attitudes he had experienced had made this very difficult. Not wanting to worry his friends and family, he chose to suffer in silence instead.
A year later, he would go on to write and produce an awareness film that would become viral. While volunteering for a suicide prevention charity on his gap year, he felt that young people needed to harness the power of media to persuade more people to take action.
He got in touch with the National Youth Theatre members’ network, asking whether anyone would help make this film. Dozens of young creatives got in touch to make the film ‘Ollie’ and the creative team called themselves ‘ItMatters’.
When ‘Ollie’ was released on social media, it inspired young people throughout the nation to get involved. After a string of celebrity endorsements, the ‘#ItMatters’ movement was born.
One of the main cultural influences behind the rise of the #ItMatters movement was the remarkable scenes happening in America, following the Parkland shootings. On February 14th 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It remains to be the deadliest high-school shooting in the history of United States.
The events that would follow in response to this tragedy would epitomise the ambitious tenacity of our generation. While still grieving the loss of their friends and loved ones, the young survivors would take the world by storm.
They would relentlessly debate about gun control on national media, while enduring vicious attacks from powerful media barons. They would directly platform marginalised young voices so that their voices could be heard. As officials from the administration and the NRA alike struggled to maintain their composure, young people continued to outsmart them.
Being a very tech-savvy generation, the young activists would crowdfund millions of dollars using their social media platforms alone. They would use their creative talents to captivate more and more people to join their cause. When national school walkouts occurred in protest of their government’s inaction on gun violence, it was clear that these students had sparked a revolution.
March For Our Lives helped youth voter turnout nationwide spike by ten percentage points, leading to the highest midterm election rate in decades. The survivors’ response to this shooting, however, had become more than just a rallying cry for fellow high school students - it became a rallying cry for young people across the world.
The message was simple: when the adults have failed, it is up to us to sort it out.
When it comes to mental health in Britain, those in positions of responsibility have become complicit in the crisis we see today. As young people, we say enough is enough.