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Youth mental health is focus of ‘Growing Together’ exhibition

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Youth Service’s exhibition ‘Growing Together’ was launched at the GEMA Gallery on Tuesday evening by the Minister for Youth, Steven Linares.

The exhibition is in support of child and adolescent Mental Health week.

Various members of the Youth Service spoke before Mr Linares declared the exhibition open.

“As you are aware, this week is Children’s Mental Health week with the theme of ‘Growing Together’. This theme is about children and young people having opportunities and finding ways to help each other to develop,” said one member.

Another noted that, given the pandemic, there has been increased concern for young people’s mental health.
“With the right opportunities, these challenges can help us to move beyond our comfort zone and support our growth,” they said.

They told the audience that members of the Youth Service have been working on developing their knowledge and understanding for mental health well-being, sharing tips on how to cope in stressful situations. The result of that month-long process is the work on display at GEMA.

The young people took part not just in the event but also worked hard on organising and curating it.
In addition, they reached out to the relevant services in Gibraltar to provide people with information on what support is available on the Rock.

The exhibition displays a wide range of art mediums and creative processes and each one has a brief description from the artists.

Mr Linares reflected that, after the pandemic everyone has experienced, the young people have been shut at home and have gone through hell.

“When you think of teenagers in your formative years and you cannot meet with friends or you cannot socialise at the most important time of your life. It is very sad to see how people suffer and this mental health exhibition just gives you an idea of their thoughts, their turmoil, the things that they have to go through,” he said.

He noted that young people are learning to talk and be more open about their mental health.

“When you have a problem, share it, because if you don’t you keep it in. And, keeping things in sometimes is not what you want,” he said.

“So this exhibition makes us all now aware. Not only young people but everybody else about the importance of mental health.”

“Mental health used to be a taboo subject. No longer,” he added while reflecting on his own history with mental health issues and the “dark place” he was in 20 years ago.

“Let’s help them as much as we can by discussing things, talking about it and being open about it. There is no shame in having a mental health issue, it is like having a toothache or a stomach ache, it is just a disease or a thing you have to go through and you can get through it if you talk and you share things,” he added.

Joyful Riot, the Youth Service’s choir, also performed at the event, with their rendition of ‘Count on Me’ by Bruno Mars visibly moving some of the parents, friends and supporters who had gathered.

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