Young media volunteers – information for parents and caregivers
Find out what young media volunteers do and how we'll involve you as their parent or caregiver.
What is a young media volunteer?
Young media volunteers are people aged 13-17 who live in England or Wales, have lived experience of a mental health problem and talk about their experiences with the media.
By sharing their stories, they help people to understand issues around mental health. And they make sure people with mental health problems are seen and heard.
Young media volunteers don’t have to:
- Share anything they don’t want to with the media. If there are certain details they don’t want to talk about, or details you don’t want to be made public, that’s absolutely fine.
- Have any media experience. Our media team will offer them guidance and support every step of the way.
- Have lots of free time. They can fit media opportunities around their studies and social life.
“I was supported all the way through by the media team – my wellbeing was their priority. Sharing my story has developed my confidence, helped me to continue recovering from my mental health problems and talk about them more openly.”
Media volunteer Catherine, who was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour about exercise and mental health. Listen to the interview.
What happens after they apply?
If they meet the requirements, we’ll send you both a consent form to fill out. We’ll then organise a call with both of you to discuss the role. We'll ask them some questions about their experiences. And we'll work together to create their volunteer profile.
A volunteer profile includes information about them and their story. Both of you will need to check you’re happy with it. When you are, we’ll use this to match the young person with media opportunities.
Letting them sign up as a young media volunteer doesn’t mean you’re consenting to them taking part in everything. We’ll get in touch every time an opportunity comes up to discuss it with you both.
How will we find out about media opportunities?
If there’s an opportunity for your young person to speak to the media, we’ll send the journalist an anonymous version of their profile. We won’t ever mention their name without consent from you and the young person. We’ll never share their contact details with the media.
If the journalist wants to speak with them, we’ll contact you both to talk about the opportunity. You can choose what they take part in, and they can decide how much they’d like to share.
What support does Mind offer?
We’ll support them every step of the way – keeping you involved throughout. Our priority is that you both feel comfortable and happy with everything.
Leading up to the media
- We’ll speak to the media outlet for them. We’ll organise everything with the journalist or producer. We'll ask any questions you might have, mention anything they don’t want to discuss, and let them know about reasonable adjustments.
- We’ll let you know what to expect. If they’re doing an interview, we’ll tell you the likely questions and share our interview tips. If they’d find it helpful, we can try to arrange a practice interview with them too. You and your young person might want to read our information on how to prepare for a media interview.
- You can change your mind. If the young person or you no longer want them to take part, or their availability changes, that’s completely fine – but please let us know. We might be able to change the opportunity, offer extra support, or find another way for them to get involved which feels more comfortable.
During the media opportunity
- They don’t have to do it alone. If they’re under 16, you or another trusted adult will need to go with them to all media opportunities. We’ll always try to come along too. If we can’t make it, we’ll be on the phone to guide them through the process. If they’re over 16, they might be able do some interviews alone if they want to – but only if that’s ok with you.
- They can stop at any time. If they need to take a break or stop an interview, they’ll have our full support. They don’t have to explain why to the journalist – we can speak to the journalist for them. Their wellbeing is our top priority.
After the media opportunity
- We'll debrief. Once they’ve finished, we’ll call to check how it went and ask if either of you have any feedback, questions or concerns.
- We’ll keep you updated. We’ll tell you when it’ll be published or broadcast. If you have questions, concerns, or you’re unhappy with the way their story has been reported, please let us know. We can speak to the media outlet about this for you.
- We can help them find mental health support. If they need support for their mental health at any point, we'll do our best to help them find it. We might recommend one of our local Mind services or share some useful resources.
If you have any more questions, check out our FAQs below. If you'd like to speak to someone, email the Youth Voice Network team at [email protected]
This is because we want to make sure they feel safe and supported as a volunteer. When they sign up, they'll be put in touch with a member of staff in the Youth Voice Network who can offer support and answer any questions.
We also need to collect your consent and the young person's demographic details. These will be stored securely, following data protection laws.
As they’re under 18, we’ll need you – the person legally responsible for their safety and care – to provide consent. This is because we understand you have a responsibility to know what they’re doing and to make sure they’re safe.
We want to make sure you’re happy with us talking to them about their experiences, and you're happy with any media opportunities we might offer.
If they want to sign up, they’ll need to fill in our online form. They’ll have to include your name, contact details and confirm you've spoken about the role together.
Before we can sign them up, you’ll both need to sign a consent form. We’ll need to ask your permission at other points too – including for each media opportunity.
We'll have a discussion with the young person about their experiences of mental health problems, and write up a profile from this. You’ll need to approve this profile.
We have a responsibility to make sure you’re happy with what they’ve shared with us for their profile.
If they share something which makes us significantly concerned for their safety, we might share that with you too, with their permission.
If you, or they, tell us something which makes us concerned that someone could be at risk of significant harm, we’ll need to do something about this.
This might involve us sharing what we’ve been told with other organisations, like the local council or social services.
We’ll always do our best to talk to the person who raised these concerns, before we share what has been said. And we'll try to involve them in any decisions about what happens next.
If you have any questions about this, email us at [email protected]
Usually, journalists will want to include the young person's name and sometimes a photo.
Sometimes they’ll be able to share their story anonymously. If we know that they or you want them to be anonymous, we’ll only approach you both when that’s possible. This might reduce the number of opportunities we’re able to offer.
We won’t ever share their name or photo without your consent.
Your young person can do as many media opportunities as they like. The length of each opportunity varies.
Sometimes you and the young person will have to travel and stay overnight for an opportunity.
If your young person would need to take time out of education or training to do a media opportunity, we strongly recommend speaking to their school or college first – and we’ll need you to give us your permission.
It’s important to us that media volunteering is an educational experience, helping young people to develop skills and confidence. But if they need to turn down an opportunity or take a break from media volunteering so they can concentrate on their studies, that’s fine. Please let us know.
If you think they need some time off, or either of you change your mind about them being a media volunteer, that's okay. Just let us know by emailing [email protected].
If they'd like to rejoin at any time, they’re welcome! We just need your consent.
If they’re under 16, you or another trusted adult (with your consent) will need to go to media opportunities with them. We’ll try to come along too. If we can’t make it in person, we can be on the phone to guide them through the process.
If they’re over 16, they might be able do some interviews alone – but only if you're happy with that.
Yes. We’ll always cover your expenses and the young person's expenses. This will always include travel costs, and sometimes meals and accommodation too.
Most of the time you won’t get to see the interview first, because journalists can’t always offer this. In some exceptional circumstances it might be possible.
We’ll always let you know the date it’s expected to be published and we'll try to send you a link or the clip.
If you're not happy with the way the story's been reported, please let us know as soon as you can so we can speak to the journalist.
Sometimes online articles can be edited. TV, radio and print interviews usually can’t be changed once they’ve been published or aired.
Most broadcast interviews – except for documentaries – are usually only available for 30 days, if not less. The same goes for interviews in print – especially national newspapers, as new issues are published almost every day.
Once the young person's interview is published, the media outlet might want to share it in another way. For example, if they do a TV interview, their quotes could be used in an online article, on the radio, or as a link on social media.
We’ll usually know about this in advance. So we can let you know how they’d like to share the story.
When media volunteers speak out, they help to raise awareness, reduce stigma and change lives.
The public response to our volunteer’s stories is usually extremely positive. Many people feel less alone or seek support for the first time after hearing them.
But it’s important to think about how the people you know might react too – and how you and your young person might feel about that.
Please let us know if you’re worried about someone’s response. We might be able to offer advice or change the opportunity. You might also find it helpful to read our information on how to deal with stigma.
If you have lived experience of mental health problems and you live in England or Wales, you might be able to sign up as a media volunteer.