Lego robot created for West Sussex Mind’s mental health mission touring schools

A Lego robot has been created to encourage children to talk about their mental health – and West Sussex Mind is hoping to take it on tour around schools in the county.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 8:41 am

The Worthing-based charity describes RU-OKx3 as a friendly robot that is accessible and informative.

It was designed by Stephen Burstow, who gets support with West Sussex Mind and is one of the charity’s Open Minds champions.

As an avid Lego fan, he wanted to create a character that would enable young people to think about mental health and find support, as well as the ability to challenge stigma.

Stephen Burstow's RU-OKx3 is a friendly robot that will enable young people to think about mental health and find support

Stephen said he found Lego therapeutic and building models had helped him with his mental health.

His robot head can open at several points and there is some movement, with control points for the superhero Lego Minigifigures inside.

Stephen said: “The primary aim of the set is to highlight that regardless of race, age, gender, or any other methods of differentiating groups of people, that you can all suffer from mental health issues, and the heroes inside – especially your head – that are there to help.

“As with any heroes, they ideally need villains to combat and, in this case, I am using characters that are based around fear and stigma as these are often the biggest things people with mental health problems battle against.

Open Minds champion Stephen Burstow finds Lego therapeutic and building models had helped him with his mental health

“I came up with the name around the mental health check that you should ask someone ‘are you okay’ three times to get a true response, as we often respond to someone asking it the first time with ‘fine’ or ‘yes’ even when we are not.”

The Open Minds team will have RU-OKx3 at Colonnade House, in Warwick Street, Worthing, for a week from May 18.

Louisa Hernandez, manager of the Open Minds project, said: “The x3 is an important reminder that when we ask people if they are okay, the first few times we might get a ‘I’m fine, I’m okay’ but for some people this may not be the case and the extra question will help people feel confident to talk about their feelings.

“Our work with children helps set the tone of how they respond to tough situations, how they feel confident in asking for help and sharing their worries and sometimes a friendly robot might just be the help they need to get started.”

The aim is for the champions to take the robot out to schools in Worthing, Shoreham, Steyning, Lancing, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Chichester, Midhurst and surrounding areas.

Champions are all people who have lived experience of mental health problems and are passionate about challenging stigma around it. The hope the robot will prompt conversations and they can then offer help and ideas for self-care.

LegoBuilders could make ten free RU-OKX3 robots, if they get 10,000 signatures supporting the idea. Visit ideas.lego.com for more information.

West Sussex Mind’s anti-stigma and awareness work relies totally on fundraising and donations. Visit www.westsussexmind.org/get-involved/donate/donate-today for more information and to make a donation.