Schools and sports clubs across the North of England will be able to take a direct step towards improving the mental health of young people aged 11-18 in the wake of World Mental Health Day with an allocation of £50,000 for Youth Mental Health First Aid training.
The project will see a minimum of 240 Youth Mental Health First Aiders trained. These organisations will have the opportunity to earn the Youth MHFA Mark of Excellence, which will be awarded at a regional celebration event.
NHS North East has commissioned the programme and Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) will be managing the training while working in partnership with the North of England Mental Health Development Unit (NEMHDU) to deliver the project.
Teachers and coaches at a mix of schools, Rugby Union clubs and cycling clubs will be trained to spot the early signs of mental health problems in young people as well as trained how to help, protect and prevent mental ill health in the young people they work with.
As a certified social enterprise with the Social Enterprise Mark, MHFA training is part of a worldwide movement to abolish the stigma associated with mental ill health and improve people’s knowledge of mental health issues. The youth MHFA course is designed to address the specific issues our young people face today. Research shows that early intervention is key in preventing the escalation of mental ill health in adulthood, while promoting recovery. This means that investment in an emotionally and mentally healthy childhood is paramount to the wellbeing of our future generations.
It is most likely that mental health issues will be spotted at school or at after school sports clubs, because this is where young people spend the majority of their time. If organisations across the region hold the Mark of Excellence they will be setting a prime example to other schools and youth clubs across the country.
The first phase of the project will start in November where an invitation to participate will be advertised and 15 organisationsfrom a mix of schools, Rugby Union clubs and cycling clubs will be recruited to take part.
Poppy Jaman, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid, Community Interest Company, said:
“This programme of work focuses equally on both physical and mental health. We are going to work with a range of local partners to get people talking about young people’s mental health in a way that is positive and resilience building. The SHA’s foresight in commissioning this programme is a stepping stone towards creating a mentally healthy young population. It is imperative that we invest in the health of our young people, there is no health without mental health and this work is a sustainable regional approach to that end.”
Dave Belshaw, Director, from NEMHDU, said:
“We are excited to see this project up and running in the North East. We supported the adult version of Mental Health First Aid for many years and I heard countless stories of it making a real difference to people’s lives, if we can do that for just a handful of young people then the investment will repay itself tenfold. Imagine how many young people 240 Instructors will come into contact with.”
Caroline Thurlbeck, from NHS North East, said:
“We are proud to be able to invest in such an important project. There needs to be more focus on preventing and treating mental health problems in young people and we are excited to be at the forefront of this initiative. This isn’t just a short term fix; the benefits of this project will continue to grow as the young people head towards adulthood.”