Naomi, 18, from Denbighshire, Wales, struggled with panic attacks and low self esteem, which meant she couldn’t stay in lessons. Getting involved in social action helped her overcome her mental health struggles.
What does social action mean to you?
When I was six, I followed my mum’s lead in fundraising for my primary school’s PTA – I wanted to give back to the school. It’s now become something that I just do without really thinking.
I’ve gained listening, communication, public speaking, team work and leadership skills, speaking at national conferences and on TV. I’ve learned a lot about how the charity sector works, what it takes to be a leader and have a more accurate view of the world.
I had low confidence and self-esteem; social action gave me a chance to try new things with minimal expectations”
How has this helped your mental health?
I used to struggle with low confidence and self-esteem, anxiety and panic attacks and found communicating difficult. Aged 14, I was struggling to stay in lessons due to panic attacks. Social action kept me going. It gave me a chance to try new things with minimal expectations.
With the help of the Fixers Charity, I started my own mental health project to help others. As well as volunteering for organisations such as the NSPCC, I’ve delivered workshops in schools and done media interviews to share my experiences. My mental health project video gained 30,000 views on Facebook over a few days.
I’ve made amazing friends who have become a support network. Before I got involved, I struggled to answer a question in class. It truly turned my life around.
Find something you like the sound of and throw yourself into it”
What would you say to others considering participating in social action?
Find something you like the sound of and throw yourself into it. You’ll benefit a cause, gain skills, friends, experiences to talk about in job interviews, confidence and more.
Experience is as important as qualifications, if not more so, and social action helps you gain that. Whether you take part in social action that directly relates to your career prospects, such as volunteering at a hospital if you’d like to become a doctor, or something different, there are transferable skills to gain. Social action helps you to stand out from the crowd.
Character virtues developed:
- Resilience, perseverance & determination
Find out more
Want to find out more about youth social action and how this can help develop character traits in your students? Resource packs are available for teachers to download from the IWILL website.