Lansdowne Digital Hero Launches New Website

17 year old May Gabriel was recently named as TalkTalk’s Young Digital Hero for 2012, with the award celebrating her championing of an online project that raises awareness of teenage depression. Gabriel, a student at Lansdowne College, has turned her own personal experiences with depression into inspiration for reaching out to other teenage depression sufferers. Her main website,, is combined with a Twitter feed and a YouTube account, and works to stimulate change in how schools and society thinks about depression.
Lansdowne Digital

It’s Ok Campaign

May began the It’s OK campaign in 2011, and has made it into an important complement to her studies at Lansdowne Sixth Form College, which primarily offers GCSE and A Level tutoring and classes for a range of different abilities. May’s work has been focusing on how to expand the reach of It’s OK beyond a single website and blog to engaging with new followers and supporters via Twitter and now YouTube. As a website, It’s OK represents a candid take on the seriousness and stigma associated with teen depression.

The frequently updated website has allowed May to post on her own history with depression and suicide attempts, which she has dealt with since the age of 14. Key to this approach has been how May invites interaction with and stories from other users that have been previously unsure about how to talk about depression in a public forum. May’s Twitter account takes a similar account, and links to news stories, while encouraging others to tweet their own experiences.

Education is the key

Gabriel explains that ‘I felt people needed to be educated in the matter, and it was something that needed to be taken seriously, both in schools and the community.’ The website’s success, and the thousands of followers that Gabriel has built up on Twitter speaks to how effective May has been so far in getting more people involved in discussions. Her new YouTube channel aims to take this further through question and answer sessions.

A major part of May’s inspiration has come from her studies at Lansdowne College, where she was able to enroll and complete GCSEs while working through her problems. The college offers an exam focused structure of lessons, and relies on small classes, and lots of interaction with tutors to get students involved and engaged with their work. The inclusive approach taken by the college to tailoring studies has been cited by Gabriel as helping her to resolve her immediate future; she explains that ‘I think me being able to get back into education quickly enabled me to focus on that and try to move forward.’

One of May’s future goals is to make education on depression a key part of college and school programs, and something that students can talk about with their teachers and tutors. Lansdowne’s Personal, Social and Health Education program provides one example of how this can be developed, and how students can built up the confidence to discuss personal issues, rather than allowing themselves to become isolated and cut off from help.

About the Author:

Christina is long-time blogger/writer and all-round creative advocate. She has had previous experience with mental health problems and the importance that constructive and supportive educational environment can have. She still remembers her studies at Lansdowne College where she has spent the best day of her life.

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