The aim of The Project’s #Support4September crowdfunding campaign is to ensure we can continue all of our peer support groups for young people with mental health issues. Our support groups are different to most other mental health services. We are inclusive, accessible and focused on helping young people thrive.
We help young people thrive in too many ways to list in a single blog post – and I’m sure I’m not aware of all of them – but here are the key benefits young people get from our support groups.
1. They realise they matter.
It’s easy for young people to believe nobody cares about them – especially when mental health issues affect their self-esteem. The Project’s existence is a clear message that all young people with mental health issues matter. This message is reinforced through our support groups, where young people discover that every staff member, volunteer and young person attending sessions cares.
2. They feel less isolated.
Meeting other young people with mental health issues highlights the fact that they are not alone. While information about mental health and people with mental health problems can be found online, interacting with people in similar situations face-to-face makes a big difference. They can talk about subjects which most people refuse to address because they don’t share their experience – and know that everyone at The Project will listen.
3. The support groups focus on activities.
A lot of people think of support groups as rather dull gatherings where everyone talks about their problems and nothing else, but The Project’s groups are different. While there are plenty of opportunities to talk about their problems, our young people aren’t forced to discuss anything they don’t want to talk about. Instead, they are encouraged to participate in activities which develop their life skills and coping abilities.
The activities offered in sessions vary, but often include cooking, arts and crafts, discussion groups and mindfulness. Participating in the activities can help young people feel more connected to others and takes their attention away from their mental health issues, providing respite. They can use what they learn in their everyday life and implement strategies to manage their mental health.
4. We help them access further support.
Some young people require different kinds of support to what The Project can offer. This can be difficult to negotiate alone, as they may be unsure about what is available and whether they can access certain services. The Project’s staff can advise young people on how to get the help and support they need.
5. We take a holistic approach to mental health.
Many support services focus on mental health in isolation, but mental health is affected by all aspects of people’s lives, including physical health, work/education and relationships. The Project acknowledges this, which is why our support group activities are varied, and helps young people understand their mental health in the context of their whole lives. This enables young people to improve their mental health using strategies which address different aspects of their lives, such as exercise, creative pursuits and mindfulness meditation.
Approaching mental health in this way often leads to an improvement in other areas of young people’s lives. It also demonstrates that while young people can’t always control their mental health symptoms or emotions, they are usually able to take some actions which produce a positive effect. This can make a huge difference to their mindset and give them hope for the future.
6. We encourage young people to set and achieve goals.
We believe that while mental health issues often cause setbacks, they shouldn’t deter people from living a full life. Setting goals can have a positive impact on mental health, giving focus and a sense of purpose, so we encourage our young people to have goals and support them as they work towards fulfilling their goals. The goals will vary depending on individual situations and could seem simple to people who haven’t experienced mental health problems, such as aiming to take a walk twice a week, but can have significant effects.
7. We don’t judge.
We accept every young person for who they are – no exceptions. Each individual has their own specific situation, mental health issues, relationships and goals. We support them as best we can and are guided by their preferences. Our support groups give young people a space in which they can be themselves and where they aren’t defined by their mental health issues. Our aim is to help young people accept themselves, just as we accept them.
Hopefully this blog has given you some interesting information about how The Project helps young people with mental health issues. We want to continue providing support, but we can only do this through the generosity of the individuals, groups and organisations who donate to and fundraise for The Project. You can help us support young people by donating to our #Support4September campaign and sharing the link: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/theprojectyp Thank you for your support.