New FUNDED service for schools – supporting young people with mental health issues

Many of the young people LifeLine work with have been deeply affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – or trauma. A growing body of research has identified the harmful effects that such experiences occurring during childhood, or teenage years (for example among others, exposure to domestic violence, or substance abuse or household mental illness) have on lifetime health. Individuals who have ACEs also tend to have more physical and mental health issues as adults than those who don’t and also tend to have a shorter life expectancy*.

Working with young people who are ‘on the edge’

A friend of mine recently commented that for some young people, 'the edge' is very close. Her and her husband have prioritised family life. They place a high value on having fun together, and talking together as a family has been something they have tried to cultivate. When one of their children came back from the first term at university and described some of the things that were going on, they were able to support and point them in the right direction. This child (no longer a child!) is making positive choices about the future - career, relationships and lifestyle. 'The edge' is quite a long way off.

Young people NEED a trusted adult…

According to the charity Our Time, the cost of non-intervention for children who are affected by mental health issues is estimated to be a staggering £17 BILLION per year. Furthermore, research indicates that children living with a parent with mental illness will themselves experience some degree of mental ill-health, unless they get some early support.

Reimagining Alternative Provision

The new school year has started and across the UK teachers are starting to feed the minds of another year's cohort of the young people who are curious and eager to learn, with a vision for their future, but what about those young people who do not share the same enthusiasm for learning, those who already seem to be on a path to a future where things aren’t good? Where is the provision for the most vulnerable, those who lack positive influences or relationships, and are in danger of dropping out of education?

The life-changing SW!TCH from Dagenham to Sierra Leone

At our recent graduation event, one parent said “When he was at school, my son was never allowed to go on a trip, but SW!TCH Expeditions has taken him on an adventure of a lifetime”. On the 27th June, SW!TCH Expeditions returned from a ten-day trip to Sierra Leone which was the culmination of a two-year programme of full-time alternative provision. "This trip exceeded all our expectations" reflects Nathan Singleton, LifeLine Projects CEO. "For a start, I got to do some touristy things for the first time in ten years of visiting!". Sierra Leone was a huge opportunity for personal breakthrough in the students.

Can technology ever replace real relationship when mentoring young people?

Social media: Foe or friend to young people? A year ago the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement produced #StatusofMind - a report that examined both the negative and positive effects of social media on young people's mental health. YouTube was found to have the most positive and Instagram the most negative impact on young people's mental health. The report's recommendations focused on increased education in cyber safety and providing more help to protect the mental well-being of young people, for example by providing social media training for youth workers.

Students SW!TCH Dagenham for Sierra Leone

A group of excited 16 year olds are fundraising for an adventure of a lifetime as they switch Dagenham for Freetown. - "We're raising £12,000 to put ourselves to the test and take what we've learnt to Sierra Leone this summer. We're going to support the work of a children's home and a farm. But this isn't about volunteering. We're going to learn a lot from the young people there who have been starting and growing social enterprises in extremely difficult circumstances."

How should we measure the performance of Alternative Provision schools?

In the wake of the Brexit vote we have a government that is focused on Brussels and not much else, or so it seems. This, however, is a key time to share solutions for the AP issue. There has been a steep increase in referrals to AP in education. As I have discussed this with other sector leaders there is general agreement that current progress measures and Ofsted's Common Inspection Framework are not suitable for AP.

Loneliness: Helping our community to engage with solutions

According to research, loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Loneliness and social isolation are actually harmful to our health: lacking social connections is as much of a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Talk about it

A few months ago I wrote and performed a poem called ‘Talk About It’ for a BBC radio event on mental health. When I was originally approached to write a poem, I was asked to write about how mental health affects young people. Just the thought of writing and performing a poem on such a serious and sensitive matter made me feel anxious. The feelings reminded me that I would not have been able to perform in front of people and on live radio as little as 5 years ago, due to my anxiety. So I decided to write about…

Off grid mentoring = changed lives

Unlike the Famous Five, our students - accompanied by three leaders and one mini bus packed with basic camping equipment and lashings of quick cook pasta in place of ginger beer - set off for four days in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the summer term. Camping was challenging (as you can see) and you may well be asking yourself: why bother? The simple answer is that investing time and genuine interest in a young person reaps rewards that just aren't present when looking for the quick fix, or only ever relating in a formal mentoring or education setting.