Young people challenge mental health system to improve so others don’t face same struggles

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week – a week dedicated to tackling stigma and helping people prioritise theirs and others’ mental health.

So we’re using this opportunity to lift up a project that is really quite special. One we are proud to be part of.

ActUp! are a group of 18-25s using their lived experience and stories to improve the mental health system in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Together, they have made a great resource of four narrative videos – sharing their stories, their hopes and thoughts for change.

These videos are not scripted. They are real stories containing references to depression, hospitalisation and emotive accounts.

Why are these videos important? ActUp!* say:

  • We don’t want other people to go through what we went through
  • We want people to learn from hearing real stories
  • We want to use our experiences to improve mental health services
  • We want to bring humanity and dignity into mental health services.

Choose from Be My Doctor, In An Ideal World, What Does Good Support Look Like and What Must I Do To Be Heard.

Or watch the full playlist (about 30 minutes in total) by following this link and meet all four young people – Alex, Riven, Joey and Genevieve.

Alex says: “I wasn’t always treated with the care, kindness and compassion that a young person suffering needed… I still feel somewhat behind in life.”

Watch Alex’s video Be My Doctor here.

Alex’s blog on kindness

Alex shares his thoughts on the many challenges faced by ActUp! when trying to improve mental health services.

But by approaching everything and everyone with kindness, they are still making change. If everyone was a little kinder, how much better could mental health services be?

Read more here.

Riven says of finally being able to talk to the same GP twice a month: “They gave me a safe space during some of the worst times. Consistently.

“Let’s not make it an ideal world for those who come after us. Let’s make an ideal world now.”

Watch Riven’s In An Ideal World video here.

Riven’s five senses grounding technique

Please go to our Instagram account @GrapevineCovAndWarks this Friday for a short grounding video made and narrated by Riven.

Riven uses this technique as a “fast reset when feeling overwhelmed, disconnected or thinking poorly.”

Try it out later this week.

Joey says: “Let’s leave preconceptions at the door, listen with intention, create a place for connection and embrace people’s stories that are often left untold.

“And finally, create a service you’ll continue to uphold.”

Watch Joey’s What Does Good Support Look Like video here.

Genevieve says: “Repeating your story over and over to strangers over and over again makes you feel like an exhibit. You feel powerless.”

Watch Genevieve’s video ‘What Must I Do To Be Heard?’ here.

Your thoughts

What are your thoughts and experiences on what good mental health care looks and feels like?

ActUp! would love to hear from you – especially if you are a professional working in the mental health system, locally or nationally.

Please email the team at

About this work

ActUp! stands for Achieve Change Through Unified Power.

Grapevine and Rethink Mental Illness are working together in partnership with the NHS, local authorities, local citizens and people with lived experience to develop a co-produced Mental Health Transformation Plan for Coventry and Warwickshire.

We are doing this by engaging and facilitating input from community and grassroots organisations to ensure our strategy is designed and delivered in a way that listens to, draws from and mobilises as many people as possible who are or have been affected by mental illness.

This forms part of our Shifting Power work.