19-year-old: 'Tackling mental health problems is like being a superhero'

Angelio Batsa

Angelio (l) and colleague Zach encouraged children to dress up as superheroes for Mental Health Awareness Week - Credit: Angelio Batsa

A Collier Row man has organised a superhero-themed week and skydived to raise awareness about mental health. 

Angelio Batsa, 19, has raised thousands of pounds for mental health charity Havering Mind after overcoming his own difficulties.

He organised fundraising events for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 10 to 16 in 2021) at a David Lloyd gym where he works as a gym floor walker, and encouraged children to dress up as superheroes. 

Angelio Batsa

Joey (l) and Isabelle (r) make an impressive Hulk and Superwoman - Credit: Angelio Batsa

Parents at the Gidea Park gym branch were then asked to donate to the charity.

Angelio told this paper: “We came up with the idea to show kids that powering through mental health problems is like being a superhero, and this allowed children to open up to their parents and friends."

According to NHS Digital, one in six school-aged children has a mental health problem, a significant rise from one in ten in 2004 and one in nine in 2017.

Angelio added: “This also created a fun and safe place for members who just came back to the club from lockdown.” 

Angelio Batsa

The Romford campaigner (r) shows off his superhero pose with colleague Brooke (l) and children at the gym: Erin (l) Maverick and Ada (r) - Credit: Angelio Batsa

Most Read

Research conducted by Mind last year found more than half of adults (60 per cent) and over two thirds of young people (68pc) said their mental health got worse during lockdown.

It also found that young people are more likely to have experienced poor mental health during lockdown than adults.

In response, Angelio took to the skies on June 13 with 19-year-old Nicola James, to draw attention to what he sees as a growing problem in the borough. 

He said: "It was amazing to see people from Havering my age supporting the skydive and donating as mental health has affected so many young people, who are going through things on their own.

“I’ve suffered from them myself, and I’m not seeing people locally talking about it."

His skydiving has raised more than £2,000 for Mind so far.

Nicola James

Angelio Batsa (l) and Nicola James (r) risked a skydive for Havering Mind in June - Credit: Nicola James

Angelio has battled with his own mental health since May 2019, but said Havering Mind is helping him get back to his "best mental health state".

He added: “We should shed more light on mental health problems. 

“If I can do it at 19, then I think more people can talk about it and break the stigma.” 

View Angelio's fundraising at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/angelio-b

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter