Teenager develops wristband to help with mental illness

Tonicha Simpson, who has created wristbands to show friends of those with mental illnesses how they can help.
Tonicha Simpson, who has created wristbands to show friends of those with mental illnesses how they can help.

An Alnwick teenager who has seen her loved ones struggle with mental illness has created some wristbands to show others the best way to help.

With Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, 19-year-old Tonicha Simpson has given the wristbands a traffic-light system, which people can wear to show whether or not they are ready to talk about their mental health.

She said: “It’s a helping hand for friends of people with mental-health conditions – I hope it shows them whether they should step in or whether that person just needs a bit of space.

“I really want the friends and family members of people with illnesses like depression and anxiety to know that they don’t have to be afraid of how the person will react – they just need to talk to them and stand by them.”

The green side of the wristband shows a willingness to talk, the yellow side requests more time before opening up and the red side means time alone is needed.

Tonicha, who works in a restaurant, added: “I think people with mental-health issues can end up being isolated because people are scared of saying the wrong thing to them. I want to make it easier for friends to stick around and provide support, as well as preventing them from overstepping.”

Tonicha, who plans to share the wristbands in universities and colleges, explains that she was inspired by her friend, who had anxiety, depression and ADHD, and a family member, who has depression.

“Each person deals with things differently,” she said. “It’s important for me to know whether they want to talk, whether they just want some space or whether they want to be around me without really saying anything.”

For more information, visit www.fixers.org.uk