Technology

Emoji-powered jukebox created to help young people talk about mental health

New research shows only a quarter of young people would tell someone if they were struggling to cope.

An emoji-powered jukebox has been created to help young people talk about how they’re feeling.

SeeMe is launching the initiative after new research revealed only around a quarter (26%) of young people aged 12-26 would tell someone if they were struggling to cope, compared to 67% who would tell someone if they were feeling physically unwell.

To use the online jukebox, said to be a world first, young people enter an emoji to represent how they are feeling, and the feelsfm.co.uk site then generates a playlist to match their mood.

It also gives them the option to give their views on what makes it hard for them to share their feelings and can point them to support lines such as Childline and Samaritans depending on their response.

See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, hopes the power of music will help people cope.

Calum Irving, See Me director, said: “Everyone has feelings, everyone has mental health, and most people listen to music.

“We want to bring this together, so young people can express how they are feeling without worrying about stigma, and get songs to help if they’re struggling.”

Research for SeeMe found almost a third (62%) of young people also said they think people are treated unfairly if they say they have a mental health condition, and only 31% would tell someone if they had a diagnosis.

However 72% said they would be able to talk to someone if they thought that person was struggling with their mental health.

Shah Gill, 21 from Paisley, struggled with his mental health when growing up and said music helped him cope.

Shah Gill
Shah Gill finds music can be therapeutic (SeeMe/PA)

He said: “When I was in school I was bullied. Often I would struggle with eating habits. I had a lot of insecurities and self-doubt. It wasn’t acknowledged by teachers.

“It took me a long time to figure out it was an eating disorder. It’s hard to explain to others what you’re going through when you don’t understand yourself. I think people saw I was struggling, but didn’t know how to handle it.

“I listen to certain types of music when I feel a certain way. If I’m upset I listen to something emotional or powerful and I’ll listen to lighter music which can help me to stop worrying about things.

“Listening to music that relates to how you’re feeling is really therapeutic and can help you to understand things on a different level. Songs can reduce you to tears, which can sound upsetting, but it’s a good way of coping.”

Scottish band Admiral Fallow are backing the campaign.

Bass player Joe Rattray said: “It’s vital that young people feel enabled and empowered enough to speak about how they are feeling.

“It can be difficult, because when you open up you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position. We still tend to see vulnerability as a negative or weak place. It absolutely isn’t.

“Speaking about your mental health is a bold step and one that will help you feel better prepared for what life throws at you.”

Mental health minister Clare Haughey
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey wants to normalise mental health issues (Marc Turner/SeeMe/PA)

The campaign is being backed by £74,000 from the Scottish Government

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “The emoji jukebox is about tapping in to the power of music. Be it happy or sad songs, many people find that music is an important way of helping them cope and express how they are feeling.

“It’s okay not to feel okay. What’s important is that people feel they can seek the help they need and deserve.”

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