Dorset Mind has been awarded sizeable funding from the National Lottery to help expand their support programme for young people’s mental health across Dorset. The charity will receive the grant over three years. This will enable them to roll-out its programme to nine middle schools and eighteen secondary schools. In addition, they will deliver a range of support groups and train ambassadors to raise awareness amongst their peers.
The ‘Dorset Mind Your Head’ programme is a whole-school approach to mental health support. This means that the charity not only supports and educates the students – they help increase the parents’ and teachers’ understanding of mental health. They are then also able to support their students’ emotional mental health and wellbeing.
In total, the charity aims to help 19,500 young people, 3,300 parents and 5,700 staff in schools; and an additional 648 young people at other community-based support groups as part of the ‘Connected Minds’ programme.
The need for adolescent support
Dorset Mind Your Head was piloted in 2018, with support from a group of six local Rotary Clubs. Since then, expansion has superceded expectations – due to the need for adolescent mental health support in Dorset.
A Year 12 student recently underlined the importance of mental health awareness education. They said, “Learning about mental health is really important for us because sometimes school can be stressful due to exams, friendships or even workload and this can lead to people developing mental illnesses. So by learning about it, we can learn that how we feel is normal and that we are not alone. And we can get help if we need it.”
The Charity’s Connected Minds Group Facilitator in Blandford explains the benefits of combining therapeutic elements with physical exercise. She says, “The participants are able to learn essential emotional management skills while learning more about the body mind connection, all while having fun in a safe and well-equipped environment. If any of them are having a bad day there are always Dorset Mind volunteers on hand to take them aside to talk. One student who was too anxious to attend the gym club before is now coming on a regular basis which is really great to see.”
Our life-changing programme
Dorset Mind’s Chief Executive, Marianne Storey comments, “We’re so grateful to the National Lottery for funding the expansion of our truly life-changing programme. This incredible grant will help secure our Young People’s programme for three years. Importantly, it means we can reach a significant number of young people, their parents and teachers across Dorset.
During the Pandemic, we know many young people have struggled with their mental health. So this grant couldn’t come at a better time.
Even before the Covid19 situation, there was evidence that at least 1 in 8 children and young people aged 5-16 live with a diagnosable mental health condition – Dorset Community Foundation’s ‘Hidden Dorset’ Report 2018 found that 50% of young people surveyed wanted help dealing with stress, and 44% needed help with mental health issues – that’s many children in every class.
In this new Covid19 world, we suspect that these numbers are going to be much higher. The size of the problem is extremely worrying – for the young people themselves of course, but also on their families, classmates, teachers and communities as a whole. But we know we can make a real difference with this programme and we are passionate about making it a success.
The key is to educate young people at an early age and at an early stage of their concerns. And by doing so, there is a chance that we can stop small issues becoming considerable problems.”
The desire to learn about mental health
Dorset Mind Your Head’s Children & Young People Service Manager, Anna Powney, comments, “I have repeatedly heard young people express a desire to learn about mental health and emotional wellbeing so that they can develop essential skills to help them best navigate their own and others’ complex emotional needs. It’s such a valued gift to receive this funding which allows us to continue to do exactly that, to educate and support young people, building their mental health awareness. We provide vital mental health support, as well as upskilling school staff and family members too. A big thank you to the National Lottery for making this happen.”
Dorset Mind Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, Dr Andy Mayers, added, “This National Lottery funding is major boost for the young people of Dorset. We know that the earlier we can reach young people to support their mental health, the more likely we will equip them to have the toolkits to improve their wellbeing and potentially reduce the lifetime impact of poor mental health. As Dorset Mind Patron, I am especially pleased that we can support our young people locally. As a member of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, I am delighted that we can share this example of good practice with national programmes. Young people are our future. We owe it to them to ensure that they can live their lives more productively and healthily.”
Find our range of support for young people here.