A LEOMINSTER teenager has created a powerful film about the stigma felt by young people with mental health issues.

Nathan Hiams, 19, drew on his own experiences when making the short movie, called Whispers, which he hopes will make people think twice before talking about others behind their backs.

A residential care worker, Nathan works with young people with disabilities and created the film with the help of Fixers, a charity which aims to give young people a voice.

Although he’s never suffered from mental health problems, Nathan has two hidden disabilities – dyslexia and dyspraxia. While dyslexia makes it hard to read, write and sometimes pronounce words, dyspraxia causes difficulty with coordination and movement.

He said: "When I was diagnosed as a toddler, my parents were told that I’d never get a job. If I’d believed that as I grew up, I’d have done nothing with my life."

But although he has refused to be held back, it doesn’t stop the whispers sometimes.

"Once, while volunteering at a local charity shop, I was asked to put all the new books into a display in alphabetical order. I tried, but soon I had over 100 books piled in front of me, I was really struggling and felt quite panicked," Nathan said.

"Soon I could hear people whispering 'he’s thick' and 'doesn’t he know his alphabet?' I could hear every word.

"Luckily, I’m resilient, but it still made me feel very awkward. If I hadn’t had the confidence I have, then a situation like that would destroy me."

Now Nathan is determined to spread his message ‘Stop The Whispers!’ and wants everyone to stop discussing people behind their backs, and instead to offer friendship, understanding and support, especially to someone with mental health struggles.

He said: "I’ve seen so often how workplaces and schools are full of gossip about other people. I don’t ever judge those who talk, they’re often not a bad person – often they don’t know the pain they’re causing, or they’re even saying things they don’t actually believe.

"Also, people are afraid of the unknown. We just need to educate them, show them the damage they’re causing and urge them to be offer support and friendship instead."

After making his film with the assistance of the campaigning charity Fixers, Nathan’s also keen to urge those who are struggling to speak out and get help.

Watch Nathan’s film online at youtube.com/watch?v=oPhZNGVU90Q&feature=youtu.be