A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
Our NE-Generation programme is drawing to a close, and this week it is playing host to ‘So What Now’, an event that will consider the future for young people in the arts and cultural sector. The programme has been hugely successful and through the creation of its Young People’s Charter for Arts and Culture, which will be unveiled at this event, it is hoped that NE-Generation will have a lasting legacy within the North East arts and cultural sector for years to come.
But (as the saying goes) as one door closes, another one opens. And ours comes via the expansion of our current mental health offer.
It’s estimated that 20% of young people suffer from a mental health problem in any given year and, in the North East, we have the highest percentage of the population prescribed anti-depressants. These figures alone nod towards mental health being a highly prevalent issue in our region, and this is why we are excited to be co-ordinating three mental health projects: My Mind Matters, Change Ur Mind and Mental Health Youth Leadership Programme.
Our mantra is to ‘improve the lives of young people in the North East’ and these projects provide us with a platform to do just that.
My Mind Matters
My Mind Matters launched in 2012 and is a three-year programme funded by Comic Relief, developed in partnership with local young people and mental health professionals.
Young people write and develop their own training course – which they then deliver – to boost the knowledge and confidence of frontline workers. The course covers depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, psychosis, eating disorders, referral routes and self-help strategies.
We’ve had lots of positive feedback so far, and the training sessions for 2013 are already underway. A number of sessions were held throughout February, attended by careers advisers, teachers and support workers from across the North East.
Over the three-year period, the project hopes to train 225 youth workers, with a collective reach of over 30,000 youngsters.
Change UR Mind
Change UR Mind is a mental health youth board for the North East which seeks to raise awareness of the mental health challenges facing young people. The group have been meeting regularly to develop a campaign aimed at other young people, which will challenge stigma and raise awareness of mental health issues.
Last month, they braced the snowy weather to come up with creative ideas about how the campaign would look, how they would spread the word and how they could make a real difference. It was agreed that their campaign would be ‘Labels are for Products not People’ and over the next few months they will be looking at developing this further, with a view to launching it by the summer.
Change UR Mind has also created a brand new website which will include case studies, news, events and a service directory to help signpost young people to places they can seek mental health support in their locality. The website will be launching in the next few weeks – look out for updates on the RYWU-NE news page.
Mental Health Youth Leadership Programme
Another exciting development, which was only recently confirmed, is the Mental Health Youth Leadership Programme.
We have secured funding to develop this in partnership with the North East Mental Health Development Unit and Young Minds. Over the next six months a bespoke leadership programme will be developed in collaboration with local young people and it will be piloted with a variety of different groups of young people.
The idea behind the Mental Health Youth Leadership Programme is that it will equip young people to influence service delivery and commissioning processes in the areas which affect them.
We’re very much looking forward to seeing how all three projects will evolve in the coming year and will provide you with updates in our future blog posts. In the meantime, visit our website or check out our Twitter and Facebook pages for more details.