News     09/02/2022

Interview: Dr Alex George talks young people’s mental health after visiting Adferiad’s ‘Project Evolve’

Adferiad Recovery was delighted catch up with UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador, A&E doctor and reality TV star Dr Alex George during his visit to our young men’s music project, Project Evolve.

For the past few years Adferiad Recovery has been helping young men in Gwent recover from mental illness through this exciting music project.

Funded by Comic Relief, Project Evolve uses music to engage with young males aged 14-20 who have experienced an episode of psychosis or who are at risk of developing psychosis.

The project focuses on building confidence whilst developing key skills, in an environment where young men can come together in a stigma-free, non-clinical setting to share their experiences, build supportive relationships and find ways to manage their symptoms.

Alex, originally from Carmarthenshire, took the time out of his busy schedule as an A&E doctor in London to pay a visit to see the excellent work going on at Project Evolve for himself.

Touching on the subject of children and young people’s mental health, Alex says: “I think in the modern day, particularly for young people, there’s a lot of pressure on mental health with social media – I think there is some power of good in social media but there can be quite a negative side to it as well.

“There’s a lot of pressure for young people to be a certain way, look a certain way and act a certain way so it’s really nice to see projects (like this) supporting people who are struggling with their mental health, giving them a sense of community, letting them share their experiences and also supporting each other is really, really important. We need to look after our mental health in this day in age as much as ever.”

Alex wasn’t afraid to get stuck in with the music either, joining the group for a jamming session and even trying his hand on the guitar before discussing with everyone how the medium of music benefits their mental wellbeing.

He said: “I think music is therapeutic for everyone, regardless of your situation, your background and your age. Most people would agree that music is therapeutic and this setting is fantastic for the guys to get together, play music, enjoy, jam and talk about things if they’re struggling as well.”

Finally, Alex’s main message for any young people struggling with their mental health was to reach out for help and not to suffer in silence.

“If you are struggling at all with your mental health, don’t be ashamed to ask for help,” says Alex.

“Reach out to people around you and you’ll be amazed how many people may have similar experiences and may be able to help. If you’re looking to get into sport for example I would say to start small, plan it around a sport or activity you already enjoy, maybe that’s football, tennis, hiking, walking, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can do any activity you like.

“I’ve heard stories about people who have started hiking, they went along with a mate and all of a sudden they’re joining a hiking club and there’s loads of them doing that. It’s just about taking that first step, don’t be afraid, there’s nothing to lose.”

To download our ‘Young People and Mental Health’ guide, you can click here.