We believe that as the landscape changes, so does the need; and most importantly, this must be reflected in the intervention too.
Since the pandemic, and its devastating effects on mental health, Teen Action has put a strong focus on supporting the mental health & well-being of underprivileged young women. We introduced mentoring and psychotherapy support with the help of a generous grant from BBC Children In Need in 2020, something which has been going strong to date, currently supported by community donations and match funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Big Give’s Women & Girls Match Fund campaign, as well as continuation funding from Comic Relief.
The program has highlighted to us the amount of demand for culturally appropriate mental health support and the lack thereof. In consultations with young women at Teen Action, we have found that there is an emerging interest in training and employment in health-related fields – something which is as of now scarce within the minority communities we operate and across BAME groups as a whole.
We are excited to announce that we’ve launched our Mentoring for Mental Health provision, piloting mental health training and volunteering opportunities for young women. The program is supported by a grant from Public Health England through Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest as part of their existing City & Hackney Wellbeing Network.
Mentoring for Mental Health is a 3-part training series developed with the support of local psychotherapists, school SEN leaders, professionals in children’s social skills development programs and the input of young people. The training focuses on providing early intervention 1:1 and group mentoring support to address the social and personal development needs of children with existing and emerging complex mental health needs.
Working in partnership with Happy Kids, young women in the training program will be supported to lead group and 1:1 mentoring support sessions for children who are displaying mild to moderate mental health concerns, which could be addressed through social and personal development coaching. This will provide an opportunity for trainees to put their skills into practice in a supervised and supported environment, supporting more minoritised young women into mental health-related roles, diversifying employment opportunities and addressing the lack of culturally appropriate social and personal development support available to children in our community.
We have 17 amazing young women currently partaking in Part A of the training program, with placements expected to commence before the year-end. We look forward to sharing the progress, achievements and results in due course.
This pilot is a small, but important, part of our efforts to seek new opportunities for minoritised young women and to challenge the status quo through addressing inequality of opportunity across BAME communities.