The Young People’s Counselling Service is a charity providing free, confidential counselling to young people aged between 11 and 18 years old.
YPCS provides up to 12 sessions of counselling from fully qualified, fully trained therapists. YPCS also offer support and education about mental health in schools to both staff and pupils and support local community organisations and groups.
Project Overview: With 1 in 6 young people now experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem, YPCS aimed to further support young people within school. All young people deserve the knowledge and tools to support positive wellbeing and so we aimed to not only give these to the young people but to tailor them to reflect how young people wished to be supported. We believe in including the voices of young people within our service to find out what works for them and to create the services they want to see. With young people being directly involved, we have aimed to make services more accessible, reduce stigma and raise awareness of the support available.
Working with 20Twenty Productions, the Fenland Youth Advisory Board and the East Cambs Youth Advisory Board, the project included the creation of a well-being journal and accompanying well-being cards, Wellbeing Wednesdays and the Well-being Mentor Programme. The journal was created in consultation with young people from the Youth Advisory Boards, including them in all aspects from design to the supportive activities within the journal. The idea for the Wellbeing Mentor Programme and Wellbeing Wednesdays came directly from a YAB member. From this idea, we crafted a training programme to teach young people how to support their peers and deliver well-being activities within their school.
We have worked with two schools thus far to train young people. The Wellbeing Mentor Programme consists of training on mental health awareness and first aid, safeguarding, wellbeing for the mentors themselves and a suite of well-being activities to deliver. The wellbeing journal and cards have also been made available for pupils to use both within school and at home.
“I am thrilled to be part of this innovative project. The openness, empathy and eagerness to not only share but to learn shown by the young people involved gives me so much hope for a brighter, more inclusive future where mental health is an open part of the conversation”.
“Being able to create an entire training programme and deliver it to groups of young people who are so passionate about wellbeing has been amazing. Students have felt able to ask questions and talk about difficult feelings and experiences in a safe and held environment which has been integral to the success of this project”
Impact of the Project: The impact of this project has been to not only educate young people about mental health and how they can support themselves and each other but empowering young people to be advocates. Peer-to-peer support can offer a more approachable means for young people to share their feelings and concerns, and the training provides ways to signpost young people to appropriate services. It introduces a whole school culture of looking out for one another, and one where mental health is embedded.
The wellbeing journal has given young people a way to express themselves, to self-reflect and to have easily accessible tools to support themselves when they do face difficulties.
As an organisation, YPCS and 20Twenty Productions have learnt how young people are seeking to reduce stigmas surrounding mental health and are keen to be those advocates for themselves and their peers. We have seen how engaged staff are in furthering their own education surrounding mental health to be more effective in supporting their students and to help make themselves trusted figures young people can turn to.
Once this framework has been published, we encourage partners to consider how they can implement the framework to make a real change for disabled people to access physical activity, sport, and leisure in the way they want, when they want, with no barriers placed on them by society.