Barnsley students get animated about anxiety in class 

Game design students at Barnsley College collaborate with local council’s public health team on short film to highlight importance of asking for support. 

‘I need help, I’m panicking, I feel really overwhelmed,’ texts the unnamed lead character in an evocative new animation created by teenage students in Barnsley. The character is caught in a nightmare, black-and-white version of school – but asks for help. Then everything changes… 

Screenshot from the animation Beyond Reflection, showing children in a classroom with thought balloons detailing their anxieties

Screenshot from the animation Beyond Reflection

We often talk about ways in which we might help young people address their own anxiety and support their friends and classmates. But, as we’ve seen recently, imposing ‘universal’ interventions has the potential for negative impacts. The project in Barnsley does something different: engaging young people in a creative project that empowers them and their peers. 

The animation, Beyond Reflection – We’re in this Together, aims to highlight the importance of working through emotional issues as early as possible to support mental and physical health.  

It has been developed with a group of young people aged 13 to 18, who met regularly over the past six months to share ideas for the content and production.   

The animation was created through a partnership between Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s Children and Young People (CYP) Public Health team and Barnsley College’s game design department. The project also involved participation from the Youth Association and Chrissy Sykes, creator of the My Body is My Body Foundation. 

It was developed as part of analysis by the CYP Public Health team and South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board of council services that support emotional well-being and mental health.  

Teresa Brocklehurst, Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Well-being Lead, who led the project, says: ‘The animation was something I wanted to develop to set the analysis work in context, as I thought it would be a creative way of demonstrating some of the issues children and young people face. The animation shows that young people have a myriad of issues, even though an individual may think they are the only one experiencing difficulties. 

‘It gives a clear message that it’s good for young people to share and support each other. As well as showing the range of issues a young person may face, it also suggests some coping mechanisms, to illustrate that there are a range of methods to build emotional and mental health resilience.’

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