António Ferreira is a multi award winning mental health speaker and anti racism campaigner, passionate about the intersectionality of race, gender identity and mental health.
At the age of 15, António was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Schizophrenia and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and experienced auditory hallucinations, which took over his life.
At 16, he attempted to take his own life. Despite António’s brother successfully de-escalating the situation and a CAMHS psychiatrist confirming everyone’s safety including António’s, officers arrested António for Affray (Public Order Act 1986). On this journey, António was blamed, shamed, and ridiculed by the officers escorting him for his actions. António ended up in a psychiatric unit sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The experience went on to shape what he calls his ‘Lemonade Journey’
António holds little shame or blame for what he experienced. Instead, he is humbled by what the journey taught him. After many years, António learnt to channel his anger, frustration, and resentment towards the police into something positive, wanting to lend his experience to support better outcomes.
Therefore, based on his experience and others’ experience, António believes the guidance and training police officers receive around mental health could be strengthened. Officers must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to respond compassionately to people experiencing mental distress.
“When life throws you lemons: you have to learn to make lemonade, but you have to decide what type of lemonade to make, and then you have to accept people’s support with that lemonade”
Founded in 2018, by the well-known activist Jonny Benjamin MBE, Beyond is a charity that addresses one of the most pressing issues facing children and young people today:
How to meet the rising need for mental health support
All of Beyond’s work is informed by and co-produced with its Youth Board, a group of dedicated youth mental health activists, all of whom have personal lived experience of mental ill health. They are the heart and soul of Beyond and the charity works hard to ensure that they represent the diversity of the unheard and marginalised in the UK.
The Youth Board draws strength from each other and powerfully campaigns for better mental health provision for all children and young people. António Ferreira is a member of the Beyond Youth Board.