31st May 2016
Nearly 300,000 young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder and nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.*
Boys' Brigade, one of the largest Christian youth organisations in the UK, together with YoungMinds, a leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people, are working to raise awareness of youth mental health issues by offering four regional conferences to help those who are suffering or vulnerable. This was made possible, in part, from UYSAF funding provided by Youth United to Boys’ Brigade. The conferences, primarily attended by group leaders, were to promote and signpost other organisations and agencies and to highlight the benefits of partnerships. Key speakers in various fields connected to mental health were invited along. Regional conferences were held in Edinburgh, Belfast, East Midlands & Hemel Hempstead with roughly 50 attendees at each.
The keynote speaker was Dick Moore from the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. The trust aims to equip young people to look after their mental wellbeing, help people to recognise the signs of depression in themselves and others so they know when to seek help, and ensure expert and evidence based help is available when people need it.
Boys’ Brigade input was presented by Lydia Miller, Development Worker who has a vast knowledge on mental health and how it affects young people. Lydia was able to present case studies in connection with the Boys’ Brigade.
Attendance and participation at the conference was completely voluntary and nearly all of the places available were filled. Feedback was also overwhelmingly positive, and the format worked well with the topic of ‘Mental Health’ being discussed openly. By the end, people felt better equipped and more aware of mental health issues in young people, which is a subject that isn’t always at the forefront of the mind in youth workers. Participants would like to see the Boys’ Brigade host more workshops on other conditions relating to mental health, including activities to help young people open up, and methods for keeping good mental health socially, physically and mentally.
New relationships were created with The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, YoungMinds UK, SAMH, Respectme and various other organisations and partners. We have only just touched on the subject of mental health and by working with other organisations and partners we can equip our officers and volunteers better to help the young people in their companies who are suffering and vulnerable. By using the Boys’ Brigade website, gazette, Facebook and Twitter, we can now signpost staff to the professional groups and organisations who can help those struggling.
There is still a stigma attached to mental health, but thanks to UYSAF funding, the Boys’ Brigade has been able to help break down the barriers which may be affecting some of the children and young people in the groups.
For more information on Boys’ Brigade, please visit their website.
Written by Jackie Wilson, Development Worker, Boys’ Brigade