Mental Health Matters

Gaby Hasham, Communications & Events Assistant
Wednesday 19th December 2018

According to mental health charity stem4, children and young people in the UK are currently facing a mental health ‘epidemic’. As a result, there is a growing need for the organisations working with young people to incorporate mental wellbeing into their work, and Leap is no exception." data-share-imageurl="">

According to mental health charity stem4, children and young people in the UK are currently facing a mental health ‘epidemic’. As a result, there is a growing need for the organisations working with young people to incorporate mental wellbeing into their work, and Leap is no exception. 


The current crisis 


Research by an EU funded project ‘Milestone’ suggests that one in ten 11-16 year olds in the UK currently have a diagnosable mental health problem and that 3 in 4 mental health problems are established in young people by the age of 24. Furthermore, according to the Educational Policy Institute, referrals to specialist children’s mental health services have increased by 26% over the last five years. 

At the end of 2017, the government published its Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health, outlining its aims to improve mental health services by 2025. These included commitments to reduce waiting times for young people to access treatment and the need for schools to have a designated mental health lead. 

Although a step in the right direction, it seems that most of the public and government’s attention around mental health remains on what is visible-the stigma around and symptoms of the current mental health crisis. The government’s green paper barely mentions the prevention of mental illness, apart from outlining its plans to research the causes of mental health in young people. 


Supporting young people to develop resilience 


The Mental Health Foundation are a research based organisation ‘dedicated to finding and addressing the source of mental health problems.’ They highlight many things that can help young people feel mentally well and grow into well-rounded healthy adults including ‘having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.’ 

Although Leap is not a mental health charity, our conflict management programmes have their origins in Cognitive Behavioural and drama therapy and can improve mental wellbeing. Our trainers support young people to develop the skills they need to better manage conflict, communicate effectively and develop emotional intelligence and resilience. Through self-reflective exercises, in a safe space, they learn the tools to change their thinking and combat negative cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviour. 

Our young graduates are then in a better position to make new choices, build better, more supportive relationships and play a positive role in their community, all of which contribute to overall better mental wellbeing. 

In 2017, 78% of young people on our Improving Prospects programme agreed that the programme had helped to make positive choices about their relationships (Leap Impact Report 2017).   


Evolving Leap’s practice 


Leap’s programmes and research are responsive to the needs of the young people we work with. Over the last few years, we have changed our strategy to focus on the secure estate, care system and alternative education, and have been working with young people who are in environments that can generate more intense conflict.  For these young people, conflict is more likely to become destructive which may be unhelpful for their mental health or wellbeing.  

For example, during the initial research and development of Under Our Roof, Leap’s new care programme, mental health and wellbeing was a prominent issue that was identified, with 60% of young people reporting negative mental health outcomes on leaving care. 

Our Impact and Innovation team are currently working on evolving Leap’s practice to better support young people in these environments. As a result, one of the aims of the care programme is to support young people and their carers to have the tools and insights to support good mental health and wellbeing. We will be measuring the programme's impact on young people's wellbeing through the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale

Leap also tries to be holistic in its approach, working with other youth organisations to take a long term, sustainable approach to developing young people’s wellbeing and emotional intelligence and contribute to a decrease in preventative mental illness. 


Read our Improving Prospects Project Worker, Sherée Prospere’s, poem reflecting on mental health here: Mind's Eye.pdf.



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