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Posts Tagged ‘More than mentors’

Building emotional resilience in young people across the capital

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Earlier this year Community Links were hugely excited to announce being awarded, by the Department of Health (DH), the opportunity to lead the highly innovative peer mentoring project, More than Mentors, which started its delivery in schools within the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Since this announcement we have also started work in the London Boroughs of Hackney and Haringey, and are reaching out to other schools and community youth groups to offer this crucial work in differing and diverse settings across the Capital.

Addressing the current crisis in young people’s mental health and focusing on building resilience 

Over recent years it has become increasingly evident that young people’s mental health needs to be seen as a priority for both health and educational services. Escalating demand against insufficient capacity within current services has created a growing crisis in mental health. As highlighted in our report: ‘Thriving Minds: Acting early on mental health’, the current crisis in mental health is as much a social crisis, as a medical or funding crisis. Mental health underpins so many aspects of our lives that, in order to tackle the causes of poor mental health, we need a far-ranging response beyond simply reforming mental health services. We need effective, evidence-based initiatives in the community that can deliver more preventative support and are focused on building resilience.

More than Mentors is a new and creative model of peer mentoring, which has been co-designed and co-delivered as a pilot study in east London. Through the Department of Health’s “health and social care volunteer fund” Community Links has been invited to take the lead in rolling this programme out in 5 boroughs across the capital – with Jo Richardson Community School and Eastbury Community School, both in London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, being the first schools where we have successfully delivered this intervention.

Building on this success, we are now not only continuing to work within these 2 schools, but have also brought on board 4 more secondary schools in Barking and Dagenham with whom we shall be working over the next academic year. With the support of the Barking and Dagenham CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) and the Education department within the local authority we are aspiring to offer this programme in every secondary school within the borough by the time the project has been completed in March 2019.

But we have also begun working in the London boroughs of Hackney and Haringey, and will be offering this More than Mentors approach within both boroughs in schools and youth groups, build the evidence base for its impact and demonstrating the wider need.

More than Mentors draws on the best evidence from across the field, exploring peer mentoring as a way of preventing significant mental health conditions in young people. Peer mentoring – where older adolescents support their younger peers – has been shown to prevent the development of mental health problems in research studies. However, frequently in practice, little attention is given to the evidence around recruitment, training and support of these volunteer mentors. Community Links, with a wider partnership team (including East London Foundation Trust and the Anna Freud Centre) are working with adolescent volunteer through to commissioners, to further co-develop, test, evaluate and subsequently disseminate an approach which sustainably delivers an effective voluntary peer mentoring workforce across London.

Rolling out More than Mentors across the capital

The More than Mentors delivery team, based at Community Links, are now busy training peer mentors, supporting peer mentoring and will soon be Training the Trainers as More than Mentors youth practitioners. The programme strives to prevent future mental health conditions in young people, and to ensure those who are struggling are able to access the support available across schools and community settings within the capital. By supporting students earlier, we are addressing early markers for mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxieties, reducing associated symptoms and supporting students in feeling able to overcome everyday pressures. Furthermore, by connecting with the local transformation agenda for Children and Young People’s mental health services, we will also look to support the development of an approach that is focused on building resilience in young people.

The More than Mentors programme

This programme trains young people aged 14-18 years old in schools and community settings such as youth clubs, to become peer mentors through a 2-day/5 session accredited (NOCN) programme of learning. Mentors are then able to offer a 10-week programme of support for mentees (aged 11-16 years old) – a programme that offers both one-to-one support and group-based, positive activities. The mentors and mentees are supported throughout the programme by experienced More than Mentors Youth Practitioners and a mental health specialist. At all stages the mentors are supervised and supported in their development as a mentor, ensuring that they can offer guidance and support to their mentees.

More than Mentors is an ambitious programme, which aims to support many young people across the capital by taking a new and innovative approach. Our first 2 schools have allowed us to work with 40 young people so far. But now, we are hoping to involve up to 400 young people over this coming academic year – having a real impact on how we support young people and build their resilience. We are keen to keep you informed of how the work is progressing. We will be sharing regular blog posts so that young people and professionals can read about the project, and hear what young people and wider stakeholders feel about the work and its impact within their schools and communities. These are exciting times for Community Links, and we are looking forward to sharing this important work with you.

If you are interested in learning more about More than Mentors, then please get in touch;

Jason Turner – Project manager

jason.turner@community-links.org

Nick Barnes – Strategic lead advisor for More than Mentors

nick.barnes@community-links.org