Winchester Youth Counselling recently welcomed naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham to an event at Winchester College.

On Monday, September 25, a sold-out audience of more than 400 people came together to hear Chris speak about how nature has had an impact on his mental health throughout his life.

The event raised in excess of £6,000, which could fund 120 counselling sessions to young people struggling with mental health.

During the hour-long talk and Q&A, Chris talked about how having autism had affected his thought patterns and relationships, how he carried guilt and anger about how the natural world is continually declining but how he used these feelings to effect change and to lobby for open and honest conversations around climate change. 

READ MORE: Hampshire woman hopes to change lives through new Slimming World group

Chris called on the young people in the audience to vote and make sure they had their say in shaping their future and told the audience: “I like working with young people. They are risk averse, yes, they make mistakes, but we need to make mistakes to make positive things happen. We need to listen more to young people and empower them to make decisions that are affecting their future.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Chris Packham in Winchester

He urged the audience to take action on issues that they feel strongly about and work together with others to make positive change both for our environment and our young people’s mental health.

Prior to the event, Chris spent two hours with Winchester Youth Counselling’s youth advisory board, made up of eight young people aged 16-25, who advise the charity on issues surrounding mental health that affect young people today. 

Chris shared his experiences and insights into how to embrace nature in a way that supports mental health and listened to the young people about the issues affecting them today.

Jules Gillard, interim CEO at Winchester Youth Counselling, said: “There is a youth mental health crisis, and demand far exceeds the mental health support available to our young people. It is our collective responsibility to act now and make a positive change. Having our patron, Chris Packham CBE not only share his own mental health experiences so openly, raise and to also advocate for the young people we support, is so important to Winchester Youth Counselling’s vision that young people can access free high-quality mental health support as soon as it is needed.”