Winchester Youth Counselling was delighted to welcome our Patron and renowned naturist and broadcaster Chris Packham CBE to an event entitled Nature and Me, at Winchester College.
On Monday 25 September, a sold-out audience of more than 400 people, made up of local Winchester residents, young and old, came together to hear Chris’ personal insights into how nature has had a prolific impact on his mental health throughout his life. The event raised in excess of £6,000, which is could fund Winchester Youth Counselling to provide 120 counselling sessions to young people struggling with their mental health.”
During the hour-long talk and Q&A, Chris talked about how having Autism had affected his thought patterns and relationships, how he carried guilt and anger about how our natural world is continually declining but how he used these feelings to effect change and to lobby for open and honest conversations around climate change.
Chris called on the young people in the audience to vote and make sure they had their say in shaping their future and told the audience: “I like working with young people. They are risk averse, yes, they make mistakes, but we need to make mistakes to make positive things happen. We need to listen more to young people and empower them to make decisions that are affecting their future.”
He urged the audience to take action on issues that they feel strongly about and work together with others to make positive change both for our environment and our young people’s mental health.
Prior to the event, Chris spent two hours with Winchester Youth Counselling’s youth advisory board, made up of eight young people aged 16-25, who advise the charity on issues surrounding mental health that affect young people today. Leading a nature walk on in a local nature reserve, Chris shared his experiences and insights into how to embrace nature in a way that supports mental health and listened to the young people about the issues affecting them today.
Jules Gillard, Interim CEO at Winchester Youth Counselling said: “There is a youth mental health crisis, and demand far exceeds the mental health support available to our young people. It is our collective responsibility to act now and make a positive change. Having our Patron, Chris Packham CBE not only share his own mental health experiences so openly, raise and to also advocate for the young people we support, is so important to Winchester Youth Counselling’s vision that young people can access free high quality mental health support as soon as it is needed.”
Winchester Youth Board member, Emaline, aged 22 said: “I have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common to witness friends and peers suffer with a mental health issue. The rise in young people struggling with mental health issues is concerning and the team behind Winchester Youth Counselling are doing the can to help tackle this. From a personal view and I am sure many would agree, providing mental health support for children and young people should not only be a priority, but essential. Identifying the issues as early as possible and providing early interventions would help to ease the transition from childhood to adulthood as smoothly and healthily as possible.”