The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, found that young people across the country are fearing for their emotional health, and worried for their future, more than ever before. For Joe Butler, bullying and mental health problems risked his future. Through support and his own tenacity, he managed to gain qualifications that will allow him to give the support he once received ...

The beginning

To understand my journey with mental health, you have to start at the beginning. At school, I was bullied from primary through to secondary. At one point it became so bad that it caused me to have an emotional breakdown, exhibiting itself in physical violence and resulting in me being expelled from school.

It’s fair to say that this was a very difficult time in my life, which significantly affected my emotional health.

However with help from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) I managed to return to school and achieve my GCSEs. I continued on to college to study Performing Arts but it is here where I started to suffer from anxiety and depression disorders, leading me to self-harm.

'I was passed from one form of support to another. But it was support that was absolutely necessary to creating positive developments for my future'

I needed and received further support from my college as well as other organisations, and was able to complete the course, obtaining a triple distinction in my Performing Arts course.

After leaving college however, I was diagnosed with an unstable personality trait and struggled to maintain a full time job, suffering from bouts of depression, anxiety and hallucinations.

I was passed from one form of support to another. But it was support that was absolutely necessary to creating positive developments for my future.

Boosting confidence, building skills

With the ongoing encouragement of Mind in Havering, where I am still a volunteer, and after seeing an advert for The Prince’s Trust Team Programme - a 12-week programme that improves the confidence and employability prospects, I enrolled on the course.

This was an amazing opportunity for me, boosting my confidence by relating to and working with my team members and building skills from the companies also involved. The Team Programme helped me to understand that not everyone is the same but it’s ok to be me.

I was able to adjust my thought processes to work and interact alongside all types of people, which really helped to reduce my anxiety.

On completion of the course, I felt I really wanted to continue to help others in similar situations to myself, young people whose mental health can feel like it effects all aspects of their life. In fact, I have now just finished a Level 2 training course with Havering College in Recognising and Understanding Mental Health.

Looking to the future

There have been lots of difficult situations in my life, lots of mental health issues, and I want to provide an outlet for other people.

I want to help people to feel secure about themselves in these uncertain times.

'For young people, the future isn’t always set in stone and I, too, am worried about what it holds, but I’m lucky to have been given lots of support'

I hope that my qualifications will allow me to do this. I have also now joined The Prince’s Trust Team Programme as a volunteer to continue giving back with a view to developing my skills further in a support role to those with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, the results of reports such as The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index don’t surprise me.

For young people, the future isn’t always set in stone and I, too, am worried about what it holds, but I’m lucky to have been given lots of support.

I hope that young people can continue to be given more and more support; support that is geared towards helping to understand the world they are going in to. For me, my story and future is still unfolding.

This isn't about surviving the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

It’s #TimeToInvest in young people’s wellbeing. Discover more in The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index 2018.

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