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Young people’s empowerment at TRIUMPH Fest

Hemlata Pant, a member of our Young People’s Advisory Group, reports on two days of community, connection and learning at TRIUMPH Fest – a transdisciplinary research network for the improvement of youth mental public health.

On Friday 7th October 2022, a group from McPin including myself knew we were going to the 2-day long TRIUMPH Festival in Edinburgh. To talk about our YP advisory network and to promote our campaign, mental health research matters. We’ve made a video of some of the content. What we didn’t know was that we’d come out of our time there with a richer and revitalised sense of what it means to work towards building the best future possible for young people.

During the welcoming first day, just seeing stalls and stalls of advocates for young people showed me that the two days would be so insightful. There were stalls from all around the UK: Ayrshire in Scotland, groups from Northern Ireland, Cardiff and more.

From conversations with other attendees, it was clear that more festivals like these are needed since there was just so much transfer of knowledge from everyone’s own experiences working in mental health. Whether it be health practitioners, policy makers, academics, voluntary organisations and more each passionately cared about using what they know and can learn to make sure young people’s experiences with mental health are as positive as possible.

In particular, hearing from Beyond about the future of community and youth empowerment and Not So Micro about tackling mental health inequalities in racialised communities resonated with me. I strongly believe accessibility should be at the forefront of any movement looking to empower young people. We had a panel where Vanessa from McPin spoke alongside young people and other academics/voluntary sector leaders about youth involvement in research. There were so many brilliant examples including from care experienced young people and a member of the TRIUMPH youth organising committee.

After a long day of promoting our Mental Health Research Matters campaign and talking to such interesting people, we were all given a lovely evening full of Ceilidh and a lush dinner. Next time you’re given the chance to Ceilidh in Scotland – go for it – there’s a real charm to group dances with traditional live music! Maybe it’s just that TRIUMPH network are such good hosts, but I had a ball as they kindly explained to non-Scottish people how to do such a fun group dance. We ended the evening with Auld Lang Syne and the memory will stay with me forever. I had only recently turned 18 and this was my first solo trip. I was nervous meeting new people and travelling alone. But I even managed it and was so happy at the end of day one. I even managed to fit in a quick walk around Edinburgh to see some sites.

The next day was insightful in a different way. Each of us from McPin attended different, parallel workshops. The first one I went to: Debating Mental Health was so expertly organised and ran. The group of attendees I was with all agreed that we felt like our opinions were listened to and built upon. We had activities such as moving to parts of the room depending on our opinion of a given prompt and group collection of ideas based on our experiences with mental health. Unlocking the ability to really deep-dive into thoughts around mental health with peers is something I believe we should constantly be doing. This workshop did so perfectly.

The next and final workshop I attended was with Brian Costello – a real expert on young people’s mental health and changing attitudes about it for the better. Telling the story of the creation of HeadStrong: a mental health service he founded which works with schools and local authorities. As a young person, finding out that someone so influential and charismatic on stage also struggled with mental health in his youth; as well as hearing about his journey which used that experience to make life better for so many others inspired me to further contribute into the field.

This feeling that I am able to make a positive change and that there are people out there to support me echoed throughout the festival. I hope everyone interested in advocating for young people and mental health gets to go to a festival as insightful and heart-touching as TRIUMPH.

Thanks to each one of the AMAZING ambassadors for making us so welcome as well as everyone working behind the scenes – your hard work was evident in the success of the festival. And do check out the video we made from some of the guests #mentalhealthresearchmatters.


We’re sparking a conversation about why mental health research matters, what good mental health research looks like and how we can all make a difference. Book a place on one of our free webinars or join the conversation on twitter and let us know why #MentalHealthResearchMatters to you.

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