What's your mental health journey?

Share your poems and experiences using #MyMentalHealthJourney

Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola is launching #MyMentalHealthJourney, a campaign to encourage  young people to use poetry to share their experiences with mental health.

One in eight children has a diagnosable mental health condition and many more go through times when they struggle to cope. Poetry is often the thing we turn to when we need some comfort so Theresa wants to encourage all young people to use poetry, to share your mental health journey and discover that there are other people out there facing similar circumstances.

For advice on facing mental health issues, there is a wealth of advice and online resources provided by our friends at YoungMinds.

How to take part

To take part, all you have to do is share an original poem, quote, or a piece of writing with the hashtag #MyMentalHealthJourney. To make sure we pick it up, tag @stwevents on Twitter, or @spreadthewordwriters on Instagram.

If you’re looking for ideas or tips to get started, see our How To Write a Poem advice below.

If you’d rather submit your poem anonymously, then enter it using the form below and we can post it out anonymously.

Alternatively, please email your poems to

N.B. We ask for your contact details in case we need to contact you, and these are not share publicly.


Poetry is an amazing way to share how we see the world, and realise we’re not alone in how we see it.

Theresa Lola, Young People's Laureate for London

Writing your poem

Theresa has some top tips for writing your poem:

1. What are you writing about? – It helps to know what you are writing about before putting poem to paper, or fingers to keypads. It is easy to get trapped in our big ideas, the campaign is focusing on our mental health Journey, decide what that means for you! You could capture a moment in your life? Or you could describe the journey as a whole? Or you could write about a part of the journey that is important e.g healing, growth? Also the poem doesn’t have to be about your own personal experience, so don’t feel any pressure! It does help to have an idea of what you want to share.

2. Create memorable imagery – The poems that will be shared as part of campaign are quite short, try using descriptions that create interesting and memorable images! Think of a different way to describe the mental health journey you are highlighting and celebrating. For example, you could describe it like a train journey, or plane journey, or you can use specific imagery that you like e.g. space, nature, video games etc.

3. Have fun writing many drafts – Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t pleased with the first poem you write, practice makes you better! Also, sometimes it takes a few drafts to get the real gems for the final poem.

4. Make use of your poetry toolbox – Are you familiar with simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia? The list goes on and on. The poetry toolbox is so exciting! Maybe try writing lines using one of them you like, and if you like the line you could use it in the poem, or that line alone could be the poem!

5. A poem doesn’t always have to rhyme – Whenever I teach in schools the first thing most students ask is ‘Miss does my poem have to rhyme?’ The answer is no, but if you love rhyme then go for it!

6. Read other poems – Follow the hashtag and read other poems for inspiration! The internet provides such a wide resource, you can watch poems being performed on YouTube, or read poems online, or if you have books even better! Sometimes the best inspiration and learning comes from taking in other poems. This is a wonderful opportunity not just to write, but to get to read and hear more poems too.

Project Poems

Two Photographs

Theresa Lola

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Two Photographs

In the older photograph
my eyes are two frowning pockets,
and my chest only housed knots and clauses.
I used fast shutter speeds to capture photographs
before sadness spilled into the frame.
I was never one to track progress, but today I did.

Before taking that selfie, I bent the sun
toward my face and poured it into my void
like cement filling the cracks of a wall.
My troubled teenage years lingered in my throat
like a shoplifter in a supermarket aisle.

What a difference 5 years makes, today
my skin is no longer a carousel of masks.
Praises be to a thick syrup of therapy,
a puree of prayer, peelings of coping mechanisms.
a cup of my mother’s honeyed voice

In the second photograph
The white space is filled with a safe noise.
My shoulders are firm and upward,
My eyes are two glowing pebbles.
Not even an edit can smudge this moment.

© Theresa Lola, 2019

Mental health advice and resources

If you are struggling with mental ill-health then there are resources and independent advice available from young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds, including their YoungMinds Crisis Messenger.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, then you can call Childline confidentially and for free on 0800 1111.

For parents looking for advise and support, YoungMinds run a free Parents Helpline, available on 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm).


you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

Warsan Shire, Young Poet Laureate for London, 2012-13

Project Partners




Headed up by Jeff Boardman and Peter Hellicar who bring a wealth of knowledge across the disciplines of concepts, creative, marketing, strategy and data. BUREAU is keen to use its experience and knowledge to make a difference in culture and causes. They have chosen to steer their skills and team to work on things in culture with organisations and brands whilst championing and partnering with causes they admire.

YoungMinds is one of the UK’s leading children’s mental health charities committed to improving the mental health and emotional well-being of children and empowering their parents and carers. For further information please visit


My troubled teenage years lingered in my throat
like a shoplifter in a supermarket aisle.

Theresa Lola, Young People's Laureate for London