Youth Mental Health Forum

On Thursday 16th February, Awareness held our first forum for the year, looking at current issues and research in youth mental health. Kelly Pope spoke on a research project she undertook last year as part of her sociology degree at Canterbury University, while researcher Mark Turner and peer support worker Phil Snape talked about the peer support program they have delivered and evaluated youth mental health service Totara House.

Kelly’s research looked at the transitions young people face when crossing the age barrier between youth and adult mental health service access, and highlighted the issues youth face with current service provision. A key finding of this research project was the identification of what is lacking in youth mental health care and young people’s suggestions for providing better support including improving access to crisis support in a comfortable environment, reducing waiting lists and introducing more support options, including mentoring type support, for transition-aged youth.

Flowing on well from this was the presentation by Phil and Mark about their work providing peer support to young adults in a group setting. Peer support is characterised by equal power relations between those running and those taking part in the groups and the mentoring role the support worker plays, drawing on their own experience of mental illness to connect with the people they are helping. Mark and Phil’s presentation showed the positive impact peer support can have for individuals, and the beginning of data collection that indicated increased wellbeing for support group attendees more broadly.

Thanks to all those who came along, we had great attendance with about 60 people there and it was a really successful day. For those interested in finding out more about youth mental health, we are selling copies of Kelly’s research report to raise funds for the seclusion DVD Awareness is producing and 298 Youth Health Centre, please email if you would like a copy.