top of page
Grace Barrett, a mixed race woman wearing a blue velvet suit and big smile. Workshops for schools. Self Esteem-Team


I’m Grace, I'm a musician, author, presenter and founder of I Am Ally.

Below is a really long story about who I am and why I do this work, but you're a busy person! So if you don't have time to read it all, here's the potted version. . . 


I grew up in Stoke-On-Trent, I love cake, I sing and dance (for ABBA

Voyage at the moment, Y'know the weird *read awesome* avatar show). Aaand I've worked with 150,000 students, parents and teachers across UK schools in the last decade.

The topics I cover now were so entwined during my own mental health journey and it turns out I’m not the only one. There’s even some stats* dotted around this site to prove it!


I really want to help you make your school the best it can be for your students and teachers. And I think I have the skills to do it!

I really want to help you make your school the best it can be for your

students and for your staff. And I think I have the skills to do it! 

Now, if you do happen to be interested in the details, they're below. Pour yourself a cuppa, you might need one! 

Hello again!

I'm Grace, I'm a musician, author, presenter and founder of I Am Ally.

I'm a bit of a live wire with a love of dogs and cake. My work in education has always been fuelled by knowing first hand what it feels like to struggle with your brain and to feel different. 

I grew up in the midlands in the 90's, one of a few non-white children in my school. I was incredibly aware of my difference and desperate to blend in. When I was 14 I started experiencing depression, not that I knew it was depression at the time. I experienced the other side of that spectrum from 17, not that I knew that's what was happening then either.


At 18 I moved to London to pursue my dreams of becoming a singer. And, against all odds, I pulled it off. I started touring the world with bands at 20, it was an incredible ride. I played venues, TV shows and festivals that were beyond my wildest dreams, I had the time of my life. I also had episode after episode of unstable mental health.


Between episodes I learnt as much about my brain as I possibly could but I struggled to access structured support or treatment. I was able to speak with psychologists though and I realised, that so many of the coping strategies for mental health maintenance were uncomplicated and I wanted young people to learn about them before they ran into trouble.

The Self-Esteem Team was born! I’m incredibly proud to call myself a founder of that team. During my 8 years there I built 5 classes (with a focus on mental health and self esteem), trained 6 speakers and delivered workshops to over 150,000 students, parents and teachers across the UK.


At 31, after more than a decade of trying to access a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, I was diagnosed with both Bipolar 2 and ADHD. I'll never forget how relieved I was when I got my diagnosis. I'll also never forget the moment, a few days later, when I was hit with an almighty wave of anger that screamed 'I TOLD YOU SO!'


For years, I'd begged for help. I'd sat in front of 20+ GPs and been told there was nothing wrong with me. I'd tried to find the right therapist. I'd spoken to friends and family. I'd educated myself and others about how to manage their brains with sleep, diet and exercise but the truth is, for me, and others who have mental illness, those things alone are never going to touch the sides.


Through therapy I began to understand that my experiences of racism and undiagnosed ADHD in school were likely factors that influenced the onset of my Bipolar. If you’ve sneaked a peak at the stats elsewhere on the site you’ll know that our three topics are inextricably linked for plenty of others too, making my story far from rare.


With that in mind, it stopped making sense for me to deliver mental health education without teaching about racism and neurodiversity.


And, when I really thought about it, those Drs that didn't believe me when I said I wasn't well; some probably didn't but maybe some just didn't understand. I'm sure the majority of my friends and family wanted to help me but were likely just out of their depth. I guess that wasn’t a nice place for them to be either.


So, we need more people to feel equipped.


We need people to understand what neurodivergence, racism and mental illness look like.


We need people that will build safe spaces. Spaces that celebrate difference.


We need people who know when and how to get formal support.


We need people to advocate for others when they can't advocate for themselves.


We need allies. Active allies.

They say it takes a village and that many hands make light work. So, I'm trying to build that village, all over the UK. Here's hoping you're ready to get your (many) hands dirty with me!


bottom of page