Youth board

Ayla Lyn Jones

Harry Corin

Ava-Lilly

Antonio Ferreira

Monica Leung

Gaia Brignone

Adam Gross

Gabriella

Muhammad (Abz) Abby

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Connick

Joe Clark

Courtney Louise Peet

George David Hodgson

Archie Lyons

Jacob People

Brady Isaacs Pearce

Nicolo di Borgoricco

Kadra Abdinasir

Lily Behan

Abbie Mitchell

George Taktak

Rhys Dickinson

Zara Sheldrake

Jonny Benjamin MBE

Louisa Rose

Ayla Lyn Jones

Age: 19

I come from a small town in South Wales called Port Talbot. From a young age I knew I wanted to make a difference someway or another, and despite leaving school with no formal qualifications due to mental ill health – I am now currently studying to become a mental health nurse, as I knew I had to turn my own struggles into a strength and to make a change.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
Being a part of the Beyond family have shown me that no matter what label I may have been given, we all have the ability and power to make a difference by using our own voices – Beyond has given me the self-belief, strength and courage to do so.

I am Beyond…
a label

Harry Corin

Age: 25

At the age of 12 I lost my father to suicide. As a child, I felt a heavy burden on my shoulders – in my head I could never escape the association with suicide. I felt as if it controlled me. As a result, I decided to hide my true life from everyone that I met. I created a fake version of myself for the most part of my life. Now, I openly reflect on my story in hope that nobody ever must suffer in silence.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I’m keen to show the younger generation that there is a new and exciting way to think about mental health. I enjoy working with like-minded people and advocating for real, long-lasting change in this space.

I am Beyond…
and passionate that nobody ever needs to suffer in silence

Ava-Lilly

Age: 10

I live with my mum, dad and my big brother Mason and my little sister Bella. I have a pet cat and it’s my dream to own a horse of my own and have a pet french bull dog.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I was bullied and it made my brain go all weird, my mental health was very poorly because of the bullies and i dont want other people to feel the same way i did. Jonny and Louisa are going to help me to stop this happening from other children.

I am Beyond…
my bullies.

Antonio Ferreira

Age: 23

I am a student at the University of Essex, originally from London, and I’m studying Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience. During my teenage years, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. While I am extremely passionate about changing the narrative on mental health, I am also passionate about other things e.g. Football: I am a Manchester United fan and I also coach football. I also enjoy learning new languages: I can speak 4 other languages.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
When I left my mental health hospital, I told myself that I had to use my experience to shed hope on others who end up in a similar situation to mine. Including those who are still hopeless. I focused on becoming stronger and more resilient. It was difficult at first, but I found that drive and I became devoted to inspire and motivate others. My ambition is to go beyond. I felt a good place to express this drive would be at Beyond.

I am Beyond…
my past and ahead of my future

Monica Leung

Age: 28

I am a British Born Chinese Londoner, passionate about making real change to young people’s mental health. Diagnosed with OCD at age 12, I hope to challenge the stigma of mental health in minority communities. I enjoy singing, dancing, Muay Thai, and getting creative in the kitchen — learning patisserie skills, hand laminating croissants and making Asian desserts to share with loved ones. With a background in brand marketing, I am on a mission to do more impactful work and this starts here.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
Every child should feel supported and empowered, whatever the challenges they face. I’m here to challenge the stigma of mental health, particularly within minority communities. I also hope to start more conversations about the impact of racism and discrimination on young people’s mental health.

I am Beyond…
Not being true to myself. I am enough.

Gaia Brignone

Age: 24

Born and raised in London to Italian parents, I am a true Britalian at heart. My own lived experience with mental ill-health has had a transformative impact on my life and has driven me to dedicate both my personal life and professional career to helping move the dial on mental health. In 2020 I joined NM Impact, a non-profit that facilitates radical collaboration across investment & philanthropy to support global mental health.

Mental health IS health and my aim is to spread this message!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
Addressing mental health will require high degrees of collaboration. I joined Beyond’s youth board for this exact reason – to meet like-minded people that share my passion and to work together to enact change. So far it has been an inspiring journey and one that I look forward to continuing.

I am Beyond…
the lack of education around mental health

Adam Gross

Age: 23

Hi, I’m a university student passionate about making a difference and helping others. I enjoy reading mindfulness, and long walks!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I become a member of the youth board to help others as I know what it feels like to be in a low place. I want to help others and show that we are all so much more than our current difficulties.

I am Beyond…
a label, I am me

Gabriella

Age: 13

My aunt sadly died from suicide when I was 8 and since then I have suffered from anxiety on stage and in school. During my time at school, in year 7 I suffered from severe anxiety and missed three months of school because of it.It was an awful experience and since then I have helped out with anyone I know suffering from anxiety to as I know how it feels to be in that situation. I love playing sports such as football and find it a great distraction from any hardships.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I know many people who suffer from a mental health disorder and I would like to help them as I know how it feels.I’m hoping to get my school involved with this charity too so they can become more aware of mental health in school.

I am Beyond…
excited to participate in this charity

Muhammad (Abz) Abby

Age: 26

I’m a podcaster and presenter from Manchester! Currently I’m a second year journalism student at UA92. I’m part of the Well-being Champions at UA92 supporting students who may need someone to talk to. I have ADHD, mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. I’m not ashamed of being a man and asking for help. I want to use my experiences to try and help educate and support people! It’s ok to be different is what I say that what’s makes people unique

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
After meeting with Louisa and Jonny as part of university mental health awareness day and was so blown away how the charity helps young people out and I thought wow that’s it’s for me and never looked back love it.

I am Beyond…
I care and want to end the stigma

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Connick

Age: 23

I am from London but currently study at Exeter University! I lost my mum to suicide when I was 14 and since then have been a keen mental health advocate, particularly for young people. Having been bereaved by suicide at a young age I am really interested in expanding our understanding of and vocabulary surrounding mental health to include grief. As an English student I am really interested in how we can use literature and the arts to bring about positive change!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
It was a no brainer! I met Jonny once through my dad and once when he did a talk at uni. Both times I cried and both times I felt so inspired to help in any way I could. I joined the board in early 2020 and it has been a ride! After every single meeting I am reminded of why I first joined, to collaborate with brilliant people on projects that will change the lives of young people around the country. I feel lucky to be able to take key roles on projects (even when I don’t really know what I’m doing!) and to lead original ideas into fruition. It is a privilege to work alongside such a beautiful cohort.

I am Beyond…
feeling ashamed of suicide.

Joe Clark

Age: 19

I’m currently a first year undergraduate student at the University of Leeds, where I’m studying for a degree in BA History & Philosophy. In my spare time I’ll probably either be reading, listening to music (probably indie), or watching/competing in sport. Home for me is North East London, just outside of Stratford, so you can often find me in a West Ham shirt too!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
In May 2019, after struggling on-and-off with my mental health throughout my teenage years, I made a suicide attempt in the break during my A-level exams. Fortunately, I finally got the help that I so desperately needed following my attempt, which meant that I was able to make a ‘full’ physical and mental recovery. I am now in a place now where I feel that I want to start supporting other teenagers and young adults who are struggling with their mental health and possibly contemplating suicide so that fewer people end up putting their lives in danger. I want to focus on helping people to understand what to do if they are feeling suicidal, and what to do if they know someone who is suicidal, so that more young people understand how to cope with these two scenarios safely. The mental health system is also failing young people, so hopefully at Beyond we can help to bring some form of positive systematic change about too.

I am Beyond…
the idea that my past defines me

Courtney Louise Peet

Age: 23

I am from the LGBTQ+ community and I have been on a roller-coaster of a journey with my mental health. From being bullied during education, to homeless at 17 and now being a mental health ambassador for Youth mental health. I have worked with NAViGO for almost 3 years, I am currently a Community Representative and None Executive Director for our membership board. I pride myself in this role as I feel not only young people, but all people deserve a voice.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I wanted to be a part of this youth board because I LOVE everything it stands for. It has given me a platform to use my knowledge to shape and help others.

I am Beyond…
labels and stereotypes

George David Hodgson

Age: 25

I am a mental health campaigner, public speaker and psychotherapeutic counsellor in training known for my incredible honesty and no-filter approach to opening up about my mental health suffering. I am also a youth advisor with YoungMinds charity and attend board meetings with the NHS to improve the care of young mental health sufferers. In 2018 I was deemed an Amazing Human with BBC Three creating a short documentary about my story.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I chose to become a member of the youth board to continue growing as a young mental health campaigner, sharing my lived experience and applying my knowledge to help Beyond grow as an inclusive, status quo-changing charity.

I am Beyond…
intrusive Thoughts

Archie Lyons

Age: 30

I’m a graphic designer and entrepreneur from NW London. When I’m not working, I love watching films and making TikToks with my dog. I was officially diagnosed with anxiety a few years ago and have since realised that I actually suffered from it from a very young age. Unfortunately, when I was young there was no education around this and I was told many times to ‘get over it’.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I want to help encourage young people to speak about their mental health. Having volunteered as a Scout leader for over 10 years, I’m well aware of the lack of support there is for young people. Beyond are trying to revolutionise this – and I want to help them in any way that I can.

I am Beyond…
Second guessing myself

Jacob People

Age: 23

I am incredibly passionate about mental health, particularly that of young people and the LGBTQ+ community. Campaigning as a Youth Activist for YoungMinds was my first step into campaigning for better mental health services. Alongside my campaigning work, I am studying to become a Psychotherapist, I love baking (particularly brownies), playing on my Xbox and chilling out with friends.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I chose to become a member of the Youth Board as i am incredibly passionate about mental health with my own lived experience of depression and PTSD. I lost my best friend to suicide back in 2015 when he was only 17 years old. I wish for all young people to know about mental illness, to know where they can seek support but also, to have knowledge on what to do if they think one of their friends is struggling. A world where young people feel safe to share how they feel without judgment and shame.

I am Beyond…
Stigma and social isolation

Brady Isaacs Pearce

Age: 21

Whilst faced with my recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder, it has literally taken a village to help me muster the strength and courage to commit to my own recovery, to commit to being and staying alive.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
Since being lucky enough to be on the youth board for Beyond, I have been welcomed into this buzzing hub of support, inspiration and honesty. Beyond has helped me to find my voice and has given me the chance to amplify it; taking a stand against something that all of us had once found completely all-consuming. I am certain that after reading my fellow members stories, you can understand why I feel so privileged to be working alongside the most passionate, brave and intelligent people.

I am Beyond…
Despair.

Nicolo di Borgoricco

Age: 17

I am an Italian student, born and raised in London. I spend my free time doing a range of things such as Physics research and competing in county golf. I love getting involved in my communities: from supporting my elderly neighbours during the lockdown, to being part of the volunteering committee at school.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I have grappled with mental struggles from my early teens and I empathise with those who find it difficult to open up. When Johnny Benjamin came to my school and gave a striking speech about his experiences, I was inspired by his charisma to get involved and help his vision in any way I could.
We Are Beyond is leading the effort to destigmatise talking about mental health, starting with my generation, and I wanted to aid and be a part of the change.

I am Beyond…
Limitations

Kadra Abdinasir

Age: 26

Kadra is Head of Children and Young People’s Programmes at the Centre for Mental Health and leads on their research and policy work to help improve the lives of children and young people. As part of her role, she is also Strategic Lead for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. Kadra is also an organiser at #CharitySoWhite, a grassroots group seeking to dismantle structural racism in the charity sector.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I’m really passionate about young people’s mental health and joining the youth board provides an exciting opportunity to share my expertise, personal experience and help amplify the voices of young people affected by mental health problems. I really value the youth-led approach Beyond take, particularly on how the organisation facilitates engaging conversations and events.

I am Beyond…
young people not being listened to or taken seriously

Lily Behan

Age: 24

Lily is a recent event management graduate who is eager to get involved in events and activities to ensure the voice of young people is heard. She is dedicated and passionate about changing the stigma connected to mental health, specifically targeting those who may feel hesitant to seek help and remind people that it is ok to not be ok.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I chose to become a member of the youth board because I want to positively influence the lives of young people. I am so passionate about mental health and I wish I had something like this when I began my journey.

I am Beyond…
ready and excited for the future of Now and Beyond

Abbie Mitchell

Age: 31

I have over 10 years experience in the charity sector, predominantly working in the mental health field with adults and young people. I am particularly passionate about peer support, lived experience leadership, bereavement care and suicide awareness. My work is centered around supporting volunteers, co-production, participation, facilitation and training. Working alongside others as a community, towards social change, is where my heart is, and I love getting involved in grassroots projects!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
Beyond really does goes beyond for young people, and wants to continue to do so. Beyond is not afraid to call out stigma. They celebrate innovation, individuality, and are serious about their mission to better support youth mental health. They are a collective of inspiring individuals, a family, who are dedicated and committed. I share the same motivation to make a difference for young people and I believe I can do so with Beyond.

I am Beyond…
labels that hold us back!

George Taktak

Age: 28

George Taktak is an artist, activist and entrepreneur. He is the founder of How Mental, a global movement of over 600,000 people making wellbeing a global priority. George uses his personal experiences of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies to humanise mental healthcare. His mission is to ensure the right support is accessible to all.

Some of the values I hold closest to my heart, and impart on this mission are: Respect, curiosity, self-expression, empathy, vulnerability and FUN!

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?

I believe in possibility. The opportunity to cultivate healthy minds from an early age opens up infinitely more possibilities for the future of society. We already know what we’ve done to date simply does not work. So, focusing on young people’s mental health is fundamental. Plus, kids unlock the element of fun which I feel is sorely missed in most conversations around mental wellbeing. At the end of the day, the mind is an incredibly deep source of curiosity and so, I think the freedom to bring a playful mentality to this domain is something I seek.

My childhood was not so pretty. I was abused both physically and emotionally by my father. I know what it means to be dealing with such trauma later in life. If I can do anything to equip young people with what they need…so they don’t have to wait as many years as I did for their mind to go completely awry. Then I’m here to try. 🙂

I am Beyond…
words.

Rhys Dickinson

Age: 25

I am trustee and ambassador of Embrace CVOC a charity that supports children and their families that are harmed by crime. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I suffered from anxiety and depression and now share my experiences to inspire others that are suffering, that no matter what you have been through, there is help and support here and you can achieve your dreams

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
I choose to join the youth board after speaking to Jonny and hearing his story and the charities mission, suffering mental health problems myself as a result of crime. I knew the impact we could have on supporting young people’s mental health. To remove the stigma and through the power we have as a collective to create meaningful change.

I am Beyond…
XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Zara Sheldrake

Age: 34

I am neurodiverse and proud. The symptoms of my depression started at 11 and were mistaken for teenage angst. When suicidal thoughts joined the party I knew I needed help but was still too scared to ask. In my 20s I finally reached out and accepted myself. Now I use my story to show people you can be successful and even find benefits in having mental health challenges. I help businesses see the advantages of diverse teams, and build wellbeing strategies that help keep people healthy.

Why did you choose to become a member of the youth board?
If I’d had wellbeing education and access to support in my teens I could have avoided years of pain and suffering. I want every child to have the tools, language, support and education to stay healthy and happy and know how to ask for help when they need it. Working with Beyond helps me reach that vision, and to do it surrounded by the most amazing and inspiring team.

I am Beyond…
Limits

Jonny Benjamin MBE

Age: 34

Founder and chair of Beyond

Why did you create Beyond?
To empower young people to fight for their mental health rights!

I am Beyond…
shame, stigma, and silence around suicide

Louisa Rose

Age: 38

CEO of Beyond

Why did you come on board?

Beyond stands for everything I believe we need when it comes to shifting the dial on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. We listen to young voices. That’s the missing jigsaw piece.

I am Beyond…
an insufficient education system that doesn’t prioritise mental health and wellbeing education from the first entry point

We are excited to have launched the UK’s first directory for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing providers.Click here to find out more