Research carried about by UK Youth, commissioned by YoungMinds, has found that 87 per cent of adults who work with under-25s in the community frequently support them with their mental health, but feel under-equipped to spot the warning signs of distress.
YoungMinds is rolling out new training and resources to help ‘trusted adults’ better support the mental health of the young people they work with.
The research also found that:
- There is a strong appetite among youth workers to be the ‘trusted adults’ young people need, but they need more training, support and guidance to do this.
- Young people from Black and minoritised backgrounds said they struggled to find trusted adults in their communities.
- Many youth workers and young people struggle to access mental health support and information about it.
Stephanie Talbut, Assistant Director of Strategy, Research & Impact at UK Youth, who led the research, said: “This research really demonstrated the value of youth work. It showed above all else how much young people value their relationship with their youth worker as their trusted adult. That the relationship is without expectation, judgement and hierarchy really helps a young person open up to their youth worker, which is particularly important when a young person is struggling with their mental health. Youth workers need more support to build their knowledge and confidence to support young people with their mental health and, together with YoungMinds, UK Youth is committed to unlocking this.”
Responding to the research Deirdre Kehoe, Director of Training and Services, at YoungMinds said: “When a young person is having a hard time with their mental health, they will often first reach out to an adult they trust in their life. Being the adult a young person turns to when they open up about their mental health can be a rewarding but challenging responsibility. Whether you work at a youth club, coach a sports team, or run extra-curricular activities outside of school, you can play a really positive and crucial role in the lives of young people.
“A key focus for us at YoungMinds is making sure young people have adults in their lives who can help. This report highlights that many adults need to feel better equipped to offer this support. That’s why we’ve developed tips and resources as well as dedicated training, so that when a young person turns to an adult they trust for support, those adults can feel confident in identifying and understanding the early warning signs, and respond positively to young people’s mental health needs.”
Rachael, 23, an Activist for YoungMinds, said: “My trusted adult is my landlady. I remember when I was struggling with my eating a few months ago I was able to call her for support. When she was visiting her mum a couple of miles from me she made food for me and we ate together which made things much easier.
“I’ve always dealt with my eating disorder on my own in the past, so to have someone there was just invaluable. Whenever I got myself into a cycle of not eating she was there to break me out of it and stop me from getting too set in a pattern. Thanks to her it was without doubt the easiest time I’ve had with food when I’ve been struggling.
“Young people need to have people in their lives that they can go to for support. Having someone that a young person can talk to who they know won’t judge them, will point them in the right direction, or even just someone to listen to them is so amazing to have. So many times my trusted adult says to me that she doesn’t know how to solve the problem I’m having, but actually just having someone listen that you know cares about you is what you really need when it feels like no one else does. Just knowing someone is there, fighting your corner, being there when you need them to be, it really does make all the difference.”
Read the full report here
YoungMinds resources can be found here