Mental health first aid training to expand to youth clubs
Friday, February 7, 2020
More youth workers across London are to receive mental health first aid (MHFA) training after further funding was announced by the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan.
The additional money awarded from the mayor’s Young Londoners Fund will see the current programme expanded to include youth clubs, charities working with young people in London and universities.
The announcement is part of a wider drive to support 110,000 disadvantaged young Londoners through the £45m fund launched in 2018.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid programme was launched 18 months ago to increase the number of trained youth mental health first aiders working with young people across London.
Delivered in partnership with mental health organisations Thrive LDN and Mental Health First Aid England, it aims to ensure every state-funded primary, secondary and further education college in London has access to youth mental health first aid by 2021.
The programme will see trained individuals work with schools and youth settings to identify warning signs and symptoms of poor mental health in young people and to signpost them to appropriate support.
Announcing the additional funding, Khan said the health and wellbeing of young Londoners was crucial to the city’s future success and supporting good mental health was a key part of that.
“That’s why we are expanding the Youth Mental Health First Aid programme beyond the classroom, so that we can support even more children and young people.
“I launched the Young Londoners Fund to empower young people to fulfill their potential and live safe, happy and healthy lives, and this extended support will ensure that no young person has to face issues with their mental health alone.”
University College London (UCL) is undertaking a citywide evaluation of the programme’s impact on schools, pupils and teachers.
Findings from a national evaluation of the programme’s one-day youth MHFA training in schools and colleges, showed staff reported an increased ability to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination in their schools.
Dr Sveta Mayer, lead researcher for the impact study at UCL, said: “Our national evaluation showed up to 90 per cent of staff who responded to our survey one school year after their Youth MHFA training were highly confident in helping students with mental health issues, compared with 30 per cent of respondents beforehand.
“Additionally, we found that students wanted more opportunities to learn about mental health and talk about their own mental health.
“Training staff within the wider youth sector, means students in London will not only have a seamless experience in being helped, if and when needed, but also more opportunities to become aware of their own and other’s mental health,” she added.
The programme’s expansion comes as new research released today by the Department for Education shows young people in schools and youth clubs feel happier after support from fellow students.
A DfE pilot saw mental health experts at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families provide training to 100 schools, colleges and youth organisations to test different structured peer-to-peer mentoring programmes.
Children and young people that were matched up with volunteer mentors based on a range of factors including shared interests, age and gender, reported feeling better supported and improved confidence and self-worth.