We understand that there is a lot of pressure on young people to look and feel a certain way, especially on social media. Sometimes, what we see on feeds and in the media is just not reflective of reality. We feel it's important to educate young people honestly about health, body confidence and wellbeing.

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After the success of the online music and mental health online event last year, the The Huge Hangout returned as a live, free one-day event hosted by the Southend YMCA’s youth projects, All In Music and FYV. It bought together youth from Southend and surrounding areas to explore mental health, whilst celebrating local musical talent. Comedy and Radio Essex presenter duo, Ross McGrane and John Oakes, hosted the event.

Photos by Gaz De Vere

The event on World Mental Health Day, Sunday 10th October 2021, aims to promote mental health awareness and wellbeing by providing talks, music, activities and workshops throughout the day, helping young people to explore coping strategies such as music, physical activity and art.


This event was presented in association with The National Lottery Community Fund and sponsored by Leigh Music Co.

Become a Mental Health Champion

The Mental Health Champions  project is a 6 week course which aims to provide young people aged 14 -25 with the knowledge and skills to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation and when and how to signpost a person to seek appropriate professional help. Learners will know how to recognise and manage stress.

Learners will not diagnose or treat mental health conditions as this can only be carried out by healthcare professionals but will gain the knowledge to identify when a person may have a condition and know where they can go to get help.

Upon successful completion of the qualification assessment, Learners will be awarded the Ofqual regulated Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health (RQF)/Award in First Aid for Mental Health at SCQF Level 5. This qualification is valid for three years from the date of achievement. It is strongly recommended that the learner attends annual refresher training. The learner will need to complete the full course again to re-qualify for a further three years.

A range of subjects are covered including:

  • What is First Aid for Mental Health?

  • Identifying mental health conditions

  • Providing advice and starting a conversation

  • Drugs and alcohol

  • First Aid for Mental Health action plan

  • First Aid for Mental Health in the workplace


Sessions will be delivered Fridays 5-7.30pm @ Eco Hub 2a St John's Rd SS0 7JZ:

5th/12th/19th/26th Nov 

3rd/10th Dec 

World Mental

Health Day 2020

On World Mental Health Day  Southend YMCA hosted The Huge Hangout: A Festival of Music and Positive Mental Health.

FYV delivered practical advice and information from individuals and professionals on themes including positive body image, Tapping, mindfulness, exercise and fitness, and laughter therapy, with an aim to promote positive mental health & wellbeing.

Our Youth Commissioners also gave us their 'FYV' ways to mental wellbeing.


Take our


The importance of positive body image is often highlighted in the press, but what can you actually do to help?

YMCA England launched the original campaign in 2014, sponsored by Dove, and encouraged large brands, organisations and celebrities to pledge to be real. We are relaunching the campaign in Southend asking individuals, local organisations, and schools to take the pledge & play their part in changing society's attitude towards body image.

Reflect Reality

I pledge to limit or stop editing my pictures and using less filters on social media

Promote Health & Wellbeing

I pledge to talk about what my body can do and not what it looks like or can't do

Reflect Diversity

I pledge to hold brands accountable by speaking out if I see something that lacks diversity and encourages unhealthy body image

Promote The Pledge

I pledge to spread the word and get friends and family to pledge to BeReal. 

Lydia Kovacs takes the Pledge

Lydia is a Stylist and Costume Designer and works on music videos and TV commercials, she explains why she is taking the BeReal pledge and why it is so important to her.

Suicide Prevention Month

In September, our Youth Commissoners took to the streets of Southend-on-Sea to raise awareness of Suicide Prevention Month.


Rachel, Eugene, Emily and Marion handmade and tied tags around the town with messages of hope and support to try and help actively prevent suicide.


They also recorded some very thought-provoking videos about their thoughts of mental health & suicide and what they hoped to achieve through this social project.


Children and young people have experienced a lot of change in their lives this year, so the Public Health England and the NHS have launched a campaign about taking care of your mental health.