Guest Post- Depression & Anxiety: Taking The Steps to Getting Help

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so we’re focusing on Mental Health at YPI throughout this month.  Today we have a special guest post from Monifa about how she has dealt with having depression and anxiety.

When experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety it can be hard to come forward and admit you are going through a hard time. The fear of judgment from others and them not truly understanding your situation can make you feel the best thing to do is keep your feelings to yourself.

I know with me, the biggest thing was admitting I actually had an issue. Instead, my answer to everything would always be I’M FINE. It was a feeling where I didn’t know how to express myself, where I was going through something but equally you didn’t want anyone to know that something was wrong.

It got to a point where I internalised everything, and the only reason people knew something was up was that everything about me changed. I stopped trying with every aspect of life. The motivation to do anything had completely gone!

You know in the beginning I didn’t even know there was an issue. I had the everyday stresses and worries that everyone else had with regards to bills and daily living, but didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. It was only until I woke up one day and literally felt like everything had completely shifted. I stopped eating, sleeping, couldn’t leave my bed and was continuously crying without any reason or understanding as to why it was happening.

On top of the depression and anxiety, I was suffering with symptoms of OCD, including intrusive thoughts and hearing voices. Now for someone who had never experienced something like that, it was the scariest thing I’d ever gone through! You feel totally alone and that something must be seriously wrong with you for this to be happening.

Before I became willing to speak out, I didn’t want anyone to know there was a problem. I carried on with my day-to-day and still went to work trying to cover up any signs of my issue. It got to a point where it was like ok….it’s rather I keep living how I’m living internalising everything then end up self destructing, or speak up and receive help.

I decided to get help and receive the support I needed to get me back on my feet. I can only speak for myself, but receiving help from mental health services was life changing! Don’t get me wrong, opening up to strangers about my situation was not the most comfortable situation in the beginning, but in the long run it was like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders the more I spoke up.

I had a support worker who I could contact at any point if I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and was seeing a psychologist who would help me with my struggles via CBT. With CBT I was able to really address the root and cause of my breakdown and create building blocks to help elevate myself. We focused on every aspect of depression, anxiety and OCD.

Now I’m not saying everyone has to go down the same path as me to start to feel better but I just wanted to share what I have experienced when receiving help with my mental health.

The reason I’m being so open about my experience is for anyone who may be going through a hard time, whatever that may be to speak up and let people know what they are going through.

I know when this all started the first thing I did to try and make sense of it was to search for anyone online who maybe going through similar experiences. Unfortunately I didn’t come across anything. This is why I feel it’s important to be open about my struggles and speak my truth. I’m no where near perfect and still suffer with moderate depression, anxiety and OCD but have more of an understanding of what my triggers are. In addition, due to receiving help I have implemented mental tools to try and keep my mood elevated and see life in a more positive light.

As a black woman, in my household the word depression wasn’t really brought up or taken very seriously, therefore I didn’t have much of an understanding. True depression is not physical – you don’t have any cuts or bruises to show you’re going through anything, people don’t see it as valid or even worthy of being called an illness. So I’m writing this post for any young black girl or boy who is feeling too scared to speak up. Just know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You can receive help and support for whatever you’re going through, and here at The Spilll you will always have a friend to help support you no matter what !

Love M x

Originally posted on  You can follow @thespilllofficial on Instagram.

Participants Share Their 2017 YP Insight Experience

As we approach our final event of 2017, when we’ll be looking back at another year of Young People Insight, some of the individuals who have been involved in the platform this year will be sharing their YP Insight experience in 2017.  Today, a number of the poets who performed at our celebratory Poetic Insight back in January share the impact YP Insight has had on them.

First of all I felt it was a privilege for Shaniqua and the Young People Insight team to grant me the opportunity to celebrate the 1st birthday of YPI, especially as it’s fulfilling a wonderful purpose in so many people’s lives.

But secondly, I am also grateful as it was my first spoken word performance outside of university and it was perfect. The audience was amazing; the team was not also helpful but made me feel welcome to also participate in other projects such as writing a poem for the crowdfunding campaign that raised awareness for young people.

It’s propelled me into believing I can do anything I set my mind upon and made me look back on the year with a sense of accomplishment; ’til this day I still perform that poem.

I wish nothing but the best for Young People Insight .

YPI to the world and back!

– Daniel Johnson (DanielWrites)


My year with YP Insight has been an experience that I’ll never forget. It has allowed me to be a part of a creative community that have been really supportive of and key to my growth. Without their encouragement and advice, I wouldn’t be so confident in myself and my abilities.

Many of the young people I have met have become more than just those who I only meet at YP Insight’s events. Their reoccurring faces at events where I perform has allowed me to realise the importance of YP insight. This journey has been an amazing one and everywhere I go, every time I perform, I remember why I am able to do what I am doing today.

It is because of organisations such has as YP Insight who have enabled me to clearly articulate myself in a creative way, be comfortable with who I am and carry myself courageously whenever I am nervous or in a state of self-doubt. Not only have I been given the opportunity to perform at their open mic nights, but I have also performed at their other events, been a part of their crowdfunding campaign and participated in their forums.

– Jamal


My YPI experience began at the beginning of this year, when I attended a poetry event at Matthews Yard in January. I was unaware that the founder of YPI and the host of the event was Shaniqua Benjamin; and was pleasantly surprised to find it was, as we attended the same secondary school.

It was not planned for me to go, it was pretty much spur of the moment.
I was very nervous, and it was awesome that there was familiar faces there. I was not down on the list to perform that evening, but Shaniqua kindly managed to allow time for me to share, which was greatly appreciated.

My first ever performance was at a Young People Insight event, the audience was warm and receptive and it was a very lovely evening; filled with effortless talent.

Since this YPI has been nothing but supportive and encouraging, during their crowd-funding campaign I contributed a poem titled ‘Blessings’ and I was also involved in the Festive Fantasia projection project, highlighting the positives of Croydon, combining three poems and read beautifully by Shaniqua. I would not have had these opportunities had it not been for YPI, it is a brilliant youth platform which strives to allow freedom of expression.

– Ashan


Young People Insight. The name that means the world to me. And quite literally. The place that birthed me. The people that nurtured me. The movement that exerts itself to me. To you. To everyone.

Young People Insight singlehandedly created the performer that I am today. I’d started writing some pieces and I was honoured and overwhelmed to be invited by the founder of Young People Insight, Shaniqua Benjamin, to perform. I was invited into an environment where I finally felt at home. I finally felt that sense of belonging, the sense of having a family; of people who looked nothing like me, a vast amount of differences, yet we all had something in common. The love for the poetry, the love for the spoken word, the love for the rhymes, the love for the emotions. The love.

We all loved something about what we was hearing, and in a time like this love is all you need. And because of the likes of Young People Insight, we all, especially younger people, get to experience this beautiful sensation of life. Whenever someone asks me about how I got into spoken word, without a split second of hesitation, Young People Insight rolls of my tongue straight away.

The creatives behind the movement are nothing but genuine, caring, supportive and loving and I genuinely cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me. They started my journey and God willing they see me throughout the entirety of my walk.

– Jack

Continued Support at Poetic Insight

Every Poetic Insight is different, which is what makes every one of them special in their own way.  One thing that never changes though is the amazing young talent and constant support in the room.

The support is what enables first time performers to take to the stage and do a great job.  On July 25th, we welcomed Jadi-Ann to the stage for the first time, who did a great job of summing up the battle of procrastination and turning words into action.  We hope that she’ll come back and share at Poetic Insight again in the future.

We also had some of our regular performers back, which is always great.  Authentic Alanie shared a spoken word poem inspired by the Indigo Children, Rainbow Children and Crystal Children, while Jamal performed a powerful spoken word piece on genocide and hate.

Rhianna took to the stage after a couple of months away, sharing a poem about love gone cold.  And Annotate put a huge smile on our face, performing one of our favourite poems about young people struggling to have a chance.

I also shared a spoken word poem that was very important to my heart, where I wiped away my mask and expressed some of my more innermost feelings.  It feels good to let my guard down every once in a while.

You’ll have to wait until October 31st for the next Poetic Insight, and since its Black History Month the theme will be Black-ish.  However, you can get social with us on Sunday from 5-8pm in Project B and we’ll be bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th – stay tuned for more news on that.

Just make sure you save the date of October 31st and if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, email me at or message me at 07910092565.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Poetic Insight: Love & Hate

On Tuesday 28th February, it was time for the ‘Love & Hate’ edition of Poetic Insight, bringing dsc_0049together more special young talent who made their voices heard
through poetry and spoken word.

It was a beautiful night, filled with sultry sayings, emotional dsc_0024expressions and wonderful words.  Different ideals of love or hate,
sometimes love and hate combined.  Everyone brought a different element to the evening, especially the first time performers, who we welcome with open arms to Poetic Insight.  Most of all though, love filled the room as we all supported each other.

The night would not have been possible without Mr Grimez, Sh’kira, Rhianna, Emili, Josephine, Jeffery, Tony, Abigail, Nyasha, Jennelle and Melvis.  They were all amazing and I’m so thankful to them for performing.


However, a few days later, I got inspired by the word hate myself, as I found myself reading about a case of injustice that brought home why I hate injustice all over again.  I was driven to write a poem, which I would like to share with you:

Words cannot express how much I hate injustice,

Words cannot express how much I despise cruelty,

How much it makes my blood boil;

Words cannot express,

Instead my body manifests;

Lips twitching,

Fists clenching,

Head shaking,

Heart racing,

Eyes spilling

With salty tears.

Forced to face

A human race

Turning into feral, savage creatures,

Forced to watch a system



Almost broken beyond repair.

Notice I said almost,

Because there’s still good out there,

Something can be done;

Let’s make our voices heard,

Create ripples of change,

Flip the bird

To those saying we can’t;

Cos we can’t let injustice persist,

Cruelty endure

And those in authority

Abuse power as they wish.

No more banning immigrants,

Killing black men,

Wrongly incarcerating youths of colour;

Forcing life-changing decisions on us,

Judging by race or gender,

Hating the unfamiliar.

We’re human beings,

We should be better than this,

Fighting for the good of each other;

Spreading love,

Re-igniting hope,

Righting wrongs of the past

For our present and future.


The next Poetic Insight will be on March 28th.  This time around, there is no theme, so let your creative juices flow and feel free to speak your mind on anything you want.  If you want to perform, email me at

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, and liking Young People Insight on Facebook .

Show Support to The Complete Freedom of Truth

Following the news, it’s become commonplace for us to hear about Brexit, fractured relationships in Europe, Trump wanting to ban immigrants from the USA and many other examples of conflicts throughout the world.

We live in a world and a society overrun with conflict and struggles to live together peacefully – harmony seems like an impossibility.  This makes it all the more important for initiatives and exchanges to take place, which will bring individuals from different aspects of life and different parts of the world together.

This is exactly what The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) does.  You will have seen me write posts about TCFT before on this blog, as I have been blessed enough to take part in the project over the past few years.

TCFT is a five-year project which aims to “develop global youth citizenship through culture and the arts”.  Time spent embracing creativity, as well as learning about policies and democracies, through various workshops, presentations, activities and sharing evenings is a rewarding experience.  It enables all participants to develop skills, build friendships and grow into change-makers that will have an impact on their communities, Europe and hopefully the world as a whole.

The Complete Freedom of Truth, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2015 from robert golden on Vimeo.

It is an environment where experiences and views are shared without judgement, prejudices are eradicated and everyone is seen as equal.  Age, race, nationality, sexuality, religion and level of ability does not matter – each of us is human and that is all that matters.  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all thought like that?

The project can also be a life-changing and thought-provoking process.  A young person from Bosnia, who was self-admittedly lazy, is working on developing on organisation in their country.  A young Romanian, who said that she was previously a little racist, has changed the way she thinks and is apologetic about it.  And I know that I probably would not have taken Young People Insight further without TCFT – I was able to develop my confidence, shake off some of my fears and it was there that I performed my first piece of spoken word.

TCFT is a truly special project that more people should be aware of, because we are slowly trying to repair some of the cracks in Europe through unity and creativity.  Instead of constantly reporting on Brexit, why doesn’t the media report that?

However, projects like this cost money and TCFT is in need of some funds for this year’s residency in Italy.  We are going to continue our creative practices and have further discussions on EU policy, which we as young people need a greater understanding of.

There is currently a crowdfunding campaign running throughout the month of February, which needs your support.  Please donate as little as £5 (more would be great) and then share it with others.  Raising money is not only important, but raising awareness is a vital aspect of the campaign.

You can donate to The Complete Freedom of Truth’s campaign on the Crowdfunder site:


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope you enjoy your day, surrounded by people you love or maybe giving time to help those who have less than you.  This season is all about giving and spreading love, so let’s spread the good cheer and keep it going the whole year round.

I also wanted to take this time to say a big thank you for all of the support you’ve shown to me and Young People Insight this year.  It might have been through reading or sharing the posts, taking time to answer my questions or coming out to my short film launch.  It really does mean a lot.

So lots of love to you on Christmas day and I hope it brings you a ton of joy.

Merry Christmas

Launching My Short Film: ‘What Would You Say?’

As you know, last week I launched the short film I made with youth charity, Fixers, in my hometown of Croydon, where the film was also shot back in September.  There was a good turnout, as we enjoyed an intimate gathering in Project B to watch the film and engage in discussions.


The reaction to the film was great, better than I could have hoped for, and it definitely seemed to get people thinking, as a lively discussion followed.  In fact, people got so into the discussion that it was hard to stop it, which was a real positive for me, as I saw that I could definitely go further with this.

We spoke about the topics of sexual exploitation, various aspects of education and knife crime, amongst other things.  Yet what was interesting was that we regularly came back to the need for all of the community to work together.  It was a common belief that young people need to be supported and called into account for their actions by their parents and other members of their family, teachers, mentors and members of the community as a whole.


However, there was also the point that young people themselves have a lot to answer for.  One individual mentioned that young people aren’t afraid of the consequences when they do wrong, while another brought up the issue of resources — they are there, but young people choose not to use them.

Just like me though, we would all like to understand why some young people do the things they do, as getting to the root of those problems would help us in addressing and solving them.

It was great to hear all of the things that people had to say and I’ve taken a lot from the launch, which will allow me to take discussions further over the course of next year, which is when the really hard work begins.


Now I’ll leave you with some words by two of the participants from the film and one of the young people who attended the launch, followed by the film itself, ‘What Would You Say?’  I hope you enjoy watching it and please share your thoughts.

“It was good to take part… It’s quite an easy procedure and really enjoyable… [I’m] glad that I participated and good to be involved.  The launch was good.  A lot of issues within the younger people was addressed and it was good to hear other people’s opinions about the issues out there.”

– Jemel, 17

“It was an amazing experience and I’m so happy I was able to get the opportunity to be a part of an incredible project.  The words I recited in the video wasn’t a script to me, it was real life.  I was struggling with unemployment and felt so lost.  Those words were coming from my heart, Shaniqua couldn’t have worded it any better…

“The launch was inspiring!  To see something I was a part of come alive on the big screen was a great feeling. The questions Shaniqua threw out that began the discussions were eye-opening! It was such a deep, knowledgeable, and interactive conversation.  Everybody was vibing with each other, bouncing off one another and we all respected one another’s thoughts, even if we didn’t all necessarily agree.

“The launch raised some interesting and valid points.  At the time of filming, I was unemployed and getting nowhere in film, which is the field I studied for.  Two months later I’m now a Production Coordinator for a film company in London.  It was great to have two people come up to me and ask me how I did it.”

– Nahed, 23

“The launch was good, nice small intimate turn out… The short film was inspiring.  I love the monologue/poem everyone said.  But it was a reminder that I think everyone needed of how society is and what we need to do to go about making it a better place.  I learnt that we got work to do in our community and it starts with us wanting to make a change.”

– Giselle, 21