StudentNews_LetsBlether

Students inspirational mental health blog receives recognition from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Wed, 24 Mar 2021 16:19:00 GMT
(Pictured above) Gabrielle Williamson holding her letter from Nicola Sturgeon
(Pictured above) Gabrielle Williamson holding her letter from Nicola Sturgeon

A GCU student was delighted to receive a letter from Scotland’s First Minster Nicola Sturgeon - after getting in touch to share her thoughts on the importance of young people’s mental health.

Second year Social Sciences student Gabrielle Williamson has been advocating the importance of mental health support through her blog “Let’s Blether” which discusses subjects such as grief, anxiety, depression and self-image.

Due to the difficulties caused as a result of the pandemic, Gabrielle understood that young people were struggling with their mental health and decided to create a blog to help break the stigma around it. She said: “My blog was made during the first Coronavirus lockdown as I knew many young people were struggling with their mental health. Social media can be a very toxic place and my aim was to be more open about what life can really be like.

I use this platform to try break stigmas surrounding these topics and normalise talking about them within society. After losing my dad to cancer in June, it made me realise just how lonely grief can be. As a young person I felt like I didn't have anyone to relate to. I started a virtual grief support group for other young people who have had to endure grief. We have weekly Zoom calls and people from all across the UK have joined.”

She added: “A week after my dad passed, my mum was then diagnosed with returning breast cancer. Despite all of this my family and I have remained so positive but we do have our bad days and I reflect that on my page. I like to show people that grief has many faces. You can smile, laugh and cry when grieving and shouldn't feel guilty for it.”

Gabrielle was thrilled to see that the First Minster had responded to her email. She said: “I was absolutely delighted when I saw that the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had responded. I really wasn't expecting a response considering how busy she must be with everything going on.

I'd sent the email at the beginning of February, as I felt more needed to be done to support young people and children when grieving. My brother is 18 and my sister is 9 and they have grieved in different ways. More needs to be done to help people of all ages as my brother and sister both have different needs.”

She added: “I feel happy that she has acknowledged my concern and worry for the future of other young people who are grieving, especially when we come out of lockdown. She reassured me that £11 million has been given to local authorities to support young people and children's mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Further to this, it is in addition to the £15 million they are investing in community based support for young people and children. I hope to see this money go to appropriate use as it is crucially needed across so many aspects of Scotland. I worry for my sister who is only 9, I think she needs more support within school and in the wider community for people of a similar age to her.”

Since creating the “Let’s Blether” blog, Gabrielle has received a very positive response and has been given the opportunity to work alongside The Daily Record and Capital Radio to speak about her views on mental health. She has also been asked to become an ambassador for Ayrshire Cancer Support and The Worldwide Cancer Organisation.

Gabrielle is hoping to send out a message to young people using her blog. She said: “To other young people struggling with their mental health, I would say never feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health - and so many people forget that. There is people out there that want to help you, so never feel alone. You are stronger than you think you are, and you will get through it. Things do get better.”

You can check out Gabrielle’s blog on her “Let’s Blether” Instagram page

 

By Rachael McAlonan

Got a SCEBE or GSBS story? Email me at Rachael.McAlonan@gcu.ac.uk or connect with me on social media