Newham charity delivers innovative peer support project as figures show majority of people now face mental health issues
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Two in three Britons have had mental health problems with young people being the worst affected age group, new research suggests.
A major study by the Mental Health Foundation found 70 per cent of young people aged 18 to 34 have experienced poor mental health compared to 58pc of those over the age of 55.
Women were more likely to be affected than men, while 73pc of people earning less than £1,200 a month said they had experienced a mental health problem in comparison to 59pc of individuals in the highest household income bracket (more than £3,701 per month).
The bleak figures were revealed today for the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) 2017 – but one Newham charity is playing its part in trying to reverse the negative trend.
Canning Town-based Community Links is running an innovative peer mentoring project aimed at significantly reducing mental health conditions in young people.
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More than Mentors is a 10-week programme which enables trained teenagers aged 14 to 18 to mentor younger pupils between the ages of 12 and 16.
The idea is to encourage young people to open up more about depression, stress and anxieties in the early stages to prevent longer-term problems, according to clinical expert Nick Barnes who is the strategic lead for the government-funded project.
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“Mentees get an opportunity to experience what a safe trusting relationship can feel like,” he explained, adding that effective, evidence-based initiatives were needed to show how volunteer mentors can make a difference.
“We don’t have historically statistical evidence to back that up but there is a lot of ancedotal evidence,” he said.
Up to 15 young people have already been trained by professionals to help deliver ten two-hour group sessions, which include one-to-ones, at two Barking schools and other youth groups.
If successful, it is hoped that up to 1,000 young people could eventually benefit with the scheme being rolled out to five London boroughs in total.
Mentors who are have been recognised as “good listeners” or with a particular interest in mental health were selected by the programme’s youth practitioners earlier this year.
They received training from clinical psychologists, plus charity and service delivery partner Community Links, and are supported to flag up individuals who might need further support.
“Both schools have been very receptive to it,” said Nick.
For further advice about mental health services in Newham, visit click here