This autumn, we'll be delivering a peer education pilot project to develop mental health resilience in young people in partnership with the Rathbone Society, Beyond the Classroom and Alford House working with the Resilience Foundry.
Practioners from the four organisations have been trained mentor peer educators aged under 25. Practitioners and peer educators then train over the summer to co-produce and deliver workshops to develop young people's mental health resilience. We will train 40 young people and 40 professionals. Some professionals will be from mental health, others such as teachers and youth workers will work with young people.
Training is free for participants and Stronger Minds is being funded by the NHS. It is governed by a board which will include places for peer facilitators.
The aims of our programme were developed in consultation with vulnerable children and young people who are service users of the partner organisations. They are:
- to share creative and innovative practice and peer led approaches
- to develop vulnerable children and young people’s resilience with a focus on mental health
Stronger Minds is a one-year project managed and led by St Michael’s and coordinated by Clare Douglas of the Resilience Foundry.
Stronger Minds has three phases
1. Training for community youth practitioners to develop our team and approach. Practitioners are employed in partner organisations and have extensive experience working with vulnerable children and young people in the community and schools, and are trained in a range of skills and techniques.
2. Practitioners and young people work together to explore a range of evidence based resilience-enhancing behaviours and how these might be applied in real life situations. Together they develop a six-session programme which can be delivered directly to children and young people and also to mental health professionals working with children and young people. Workshop activities communicate ideas and inspiration to develop young people’s resilience by supporting self awareness and self esteem; use strategies for managing emotions and behaviours to improve mood; and promote an understanding of the positive and negative impacts of social media.
They will produce a toolkit with session plans using written and non-written media including a USB with podcasts and video clips.
3. Practitioners and young people co-facilitate the programme in community and youth settings and schools to other young people, and to mental health professionals in their places of work.
Clare Douglas said, “We will ensure that the diverse talents, strengths and experience of the facilitators and the young people are valued and incorporated into the training. Stronger Minds challenges ‘mental health’ as a euphemism for mental illness. Instead, we present a continuum of mental wellbeing, which includes recognising when we need to consult a professional.”
Sue Pettigrew of St Michael’s said, “We are developing strategies to support self-care in partnership with children and young people. By developing a preventative mental health programme to develop resilience, Stronger Minds supports the recommendations of The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health which identifies prevention at key life stages such as childhood and adolescence as a top priority. The project will train voluntary sector practitioners to support young people’s mental health and develop their resilience. We expect them to sustain this change in their practice, and for that to impact on their organisation.”
Content from Stronger Minds will be available free from resiliencefoundry.com and at partners’ websites. Evidence gathered throughout the project on developing resilience and mental health wellbeing with young people will be available to commissioners and others.
Stronger Minds will be evaluated for the following impacts:
- resilience of peer facilitators
- practice of youth practitioners
- participants of peer facilitated training programme, especially the 40 mental health professionals we will reach
- users of the toolkit