Young & Mindful: An interview with Alice McGurran
Megan Fereday talks to Alice McGurran about her exciting new mental health magazine for young people, ‘Young & Mindful’.
Alice McGurran is Content Editor at Welldoing.org, and Editor of Young & Mindful: a new mental health and lifestyle magazine for young people. I spoke to her about the origins of the project, the importance of young voices, and giving yourself permission to change.
How did you start this project?
I came to Young & Mindful through a different magazine published by TI Media, called Planet Mindful; this is edited by Louise Chunn, who I work with at welldoing.org. The publishers had the brilliant idea of doing a similar project specifically for young people, which I was really keen to get involved in. The enthusiasm of everyone on the project meant that it came to life very quickly, and we’re delighted to have now published our first issue!
The magazine covers a broad range of topics, including relationships, identity and even the environment alongside mental health. Why did you decide to include all these topics?
I strongly believe in the holistic nature of mental health, and of human beings in general. We all have mental health, and live in this very complex world, buffeted by shifting circumstances and situations that can affect us in various ways. So we wanted to encourage our young readers to look at the whole world around them and within them in different ways; to encourage critical thinking about, not only mental health, but the wide range of issues and life circumstances that can affect it. I didn’t want the readers to only think about the ‘problems in their thinking’ that they might have; to reduce them to their struggles, and categorise them in the way that wider society so often does.
Who writes for Young & Mindful and how do you find contributors?
Many of our therapists at welldoing.org contribute pieces on their specialities. I also make it a priority to include articles by young people themselves, in their own words, about their real-life experiences. There aren’t enough young voices in other magazines that target similar age groups, and I think it’s so important for young people to hear from, and be heard by, each other on the issues that matter to them. They’re the best ones to tell their stories, and my hope is for Young & Mindful to act as a safe space for them to do just that. So please do reach out to me if you’d like to share yours!
Do you have any favourite articles in this first issue?
I’m really proud of everyone who wrote for Issue 1. One of my favourite pieces was from Ned Carter Miles, who wrote a piece on paintings and how people should ‘just try to feel’ them, even when we don’t understand them. I always prefer pieces where the author shows their own vulnerability and lived experience.
The article on impostor syndrome was also a favourite of mine in Issue 1. Dr Terri Apter describes this experience, which can affect people of almost any age, in a sophisticated way that’s engaging to read, and practically helpful for anyone struggling with it.
It explores one of the ways that modern life can be difficult for young people. The overwhelming amount of information available to us at any given moment, and the resulting pressure to know everything about everything can have a big impact. I can see that it would be easy for many young people to feel as though they don’t have a strong identity if they haven’t yet formed strong opinions. I feel these pressures slightly now as a 27 year old, but I didn’t grow up with the Internet – I only first wrestled with dodgy broadband from the age of around 13 or 14. It’s important to be, as Dr Apter reminds us, patient and compassionate with ourselves as we continue to grow, even well into our adulthood.
Give yourself permission to explore the world: you’re allowed to keep learning and changing.
What do you see as the future of this magazine?
I’d love to see the magazine positioned in schools across the country. We’ve already had quite a bit of interest from several schools, which is really exciting. It’s the perfect kind of place for our young readers to pick up something that will stimulate new ways of thinking outside the box, pique their interest in something completely new, whilst reassuring them that they are understood and not alone as they navigate their world. Being supportive of and in tune with young people’s needs and interests is always going to be the aim of Young&Mindful.
Where can we find Young & Mindful?
You can find Issue 1 in WHSmith’s, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi and the publishers are working on an online subscription being made available. The second issue is out in February 2019.
While it isn’t available online, the fact that it’s printed is really special. We hope it’s the kind of magazine people can pick up off the shelf and read, and re-read, at any time of the year – perhaps when you fancy a break from quick-news articles on Twitter or Facebook. It’s quite a mindful activity to sit, perhaps with a cup of tea or by a window, and read something tangible in your hands; and with its beautiful artwork too (by art director Christine Sullivan), it’s lovely to flip through and look at as well as read. We hope everyone enjoys it!
Follow @planetmindfulmag on Instagram
Email [email protected]
Posted on: 10th December 2018