Let's Blether: 20-year-old student Gabrielle Williamson creates Instagram blog to help young people deal with grief and mental health after her father passed away during lockdown

The student studying in Glasgow has received recognition from the First Minister and the Queen after creating a blog focusing on mental health and grief when her dad passed away from cancer during lockdown.

Gabrielle Williamson, 20, and her dad Kevin Williamson who passed away 11 months ago, aged 49 (Photo: Gabrielle Williamson).

Gabrielle Williamson, a 20-year-old politics student from Ayr, created the Instagram blog called Lets_Blether a year ago after losing her father, Kevin Williamson, to cancer.

A week after her dad’s passing, Ms Williamson’s mum was also told she had returning breast cancer.

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Driven by ‘the strength of her father’, Ms Williamson says the blog focuses on topics such as grief, mental health, self-image and other ‘taboo’ issues she hopes to normalise.

The 20-year-old from Glasgow Caledonian University said: "At first, I wanted to use the page to express how I was feeling a bit like therapy and, as I got more into it, I realised, talking to people, I’m not alone in the way I’m feeling.”

"The loneliness and the pain I felt when I lost my dad – I really wanted to put that into something positive.

"I’ve been able to meet so many other young people going through a similar experience which is a huge comfort.”

"It’s really easy to go on someone’s Instagram page and think ‘Oh, their life is perfect”, but really it’s not.

Gabrielle Williamson and her mum Victoria, dad Kevin, brother Findlay and sister Poppy. Ms Williamson said: "What really matters is your friends and family and your health is your wealth." (Photo: Gabrielle Williamson).

"I wanted my page to show young people that it’s okay to be upset.”

The page has almost 3,000 followers over Instagram and Ms Williamson has received recognition from the Queen and the First Minister of Scotland.

She said: “I wrote to the First Minister recently about my concern with regards to people’s mental health and she wrote back to me.

"I couldn’t believe I got a response, I am so excited, and she has put me in contact with the Mental Health Committee run by the Government.

"I also wrote to her majesty the queen and got a response from her too passing on her condolences.

"I went to my gran’s care home and I was showing her it at the window.

"I am overwhelmed by the support I have received and I really want to get my message out there.”

Keen to help other young people dealing with the loss of a loved one, the 20-year-old has also recently set up a virtual grieving support group.

This virtual session is held over zoom and gives those aged 16-24 the opportunity to know they are not alone in their grief.

Working alongside South Ayrshire Council, Ms Williamson also hopes to begin fundraising for a “Let’s Blether box” for primary school children struggling with loss.

The boxes are planned to include a reversible octopus emotion toy, a journal, colouring-in to help describe how kids feel, a grief directory, emotion cards and a pen pal system across the UK.

Ms Williamson who has two siblings added: “I have an 18-year-old brother and a 9-year-old sister and I worry most for my sister because at her age she gets very confused in what her grief really is.

"I want these boxes to just be a support for young kids to know they are not alone.

“Life can be so lonely, especially during these times – whether you are grieving or struggling with your mental help I want to reach out and get people talking.”

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