Big Ideas worked with students at New River College, a Pupil Referral Unit in Islington, to create two short films about Mental Health. Funded by Islington Giving, Young Grant Makers, this project allowed agency to young people to talk about how they manage their own mental health, gave students an opportunity to lead positive change among their peers across the borough, and signposted young people to mental health services across Islington. 

The New River College students were at the heart of the project and their voices shaped the content of the final films. Big Ideas ran a one day workshop with the young people to devise, write and act in two films that they felt addressed mental health in young people, and tips and strategies that the young people themselves use to support their own mental health.

Participants discussed how acting out scenarios was a helpful way to explore how to respond to situations. They then came up with two scenarios in the workshop using their own personal experiences as the basis of the films.

The students wrote, scripted and starred in the films, utilising drama and scenarios as a way to explore the complex topic. They also created the slogan, ‘Have a talk, take a walk, but don’t run from your mental health’ which has been used throughout the programme. Watch the films here on our website.

The filming experience had a positive impact on the students in the workshop

I learned how to work with scenarios and dialogue – script writing. Working through scenarios was a problem-solving exercise. I think this is something which can help other young people make good choices. It shows you how to prioritise mental health.

I used my own experience and what I’ve learned for this project. You have to surround yourself with good people and to never give up. If you want young people to open up about this subject then you have to understand them, let them speak, hear them out.

To signpost to Mental Health services in Islington, the young people created a poster featuring four organisations that they felt were most useful to their peers. This resource was distributed in schools in Islington.

Amplifying the impact of the programme, both films and resources were used in digital events and assemblies to start conversations about Mental Health.  The digital resources are available to schools in Islington, to request email

To find out about how Big Ideas can work with students in your brough on a similar programme please email

This project was made possible by the Young Grant Makers, part of Islington Giving, and the Cripplegate Foundation. Big Ideas would like to thank the staff and students at New River College.