You may have seen our #Support4September crowdfunding campaign (http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/theprojectyp) and wondered why we need your support and what makes our peer support groups different to other youth mental health services. In this blog post, I attempt to give an overview of why our support groups are special and how they help young people with mental health issues.
We provide support where there was previously none.
Accessing mental health services can be incredibly difficult for anyone, but the services available for teenagers and young people are severely limited. Especially NHS services. The situation is more challenging in rural areas like East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset. Services are concentrated in urban areas and getting transport is often difficult (and expensive). Many services have stringent criteria and anyone who doesn’t meet these criteria is left unsupported.
The Project is different because it’s an early intervention service and young people can be referred to our support groups without being diagnosed with a mental illness or condition. We focus on the criteria which matter most: whether young people are experiencing emotional distress and if they could benefit from our sessions. We have helped young people experiencing a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, bereavement, bullying, depression, eating disorders and exam stress. We recognise that all of these issues can have devastating effects and there is no hierarchy of importance. Nobody is excluded for not meeting a checklist of symptoms or diagnoses.
Our support groups are free and accessible.
We don’t want to turn away young people who need support, which would be necessary if we charged them for attending support groups. This means we have to rely on other sources of funding, but it also means none of the young people in our support groups have to worry about whether they can afford to attend a session. We want to avoid adding extra pressure to vulnerable young people who are already struggling.
Providing support for free also shows young people that they are valued for being themselves. Our support is unconditional and we are not profiting from their need. It’s hard to emphasise how important this can be to young people: it means that when we encourage them to attend sessions, they know it’s because we have their best interests at heart and there are no ulterior motives. This helps young people to build their self-esteem and develop trust in The Project and our advice.
We help young people thrive, not just survive.
We have a holistic approach to mental health, viewing it as one component of a full life. There is a strong relationship between mental health and getting what you want out of your life: mental health issues can limit your activities and your activities can improve your mental health. By recognising this, we help young people to create and achieve their goals.
Our aim is to enable young people with mental health issues to be happy and fulfilled. Our support groups focus on giving them the tools to manage their mental health and develop life skills. We want to empower young people to take control, (which includes accessing support when needed), and improve their wellbeing across all aspects of their lives.
There is much more to be done.
The harsh reality is that we, as a society, are not doing enough to help young people with mental health problems. The Project is not doing enough – though we have achieved a lot – because we don’t have enough resources. We need more funding so that we can continue helping the young people currently in our support groups. We need more money to help more young people.
You can help by supporting our crowdfunding campaign, #Support4September. Please visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/theprojectyp and share our link across social media.
By supporting The Project, you will help keep our support groups free and accessible. Every pound we raise is significant, as it helps us to keep going and keep helping young people. Support us this September and we can support young people with mental health issues all year round.
Thank you for supporting us.