2 February 2024
This week is children’s mental health week. The theme this year is ‘My Voice Matters, empowering children and young people to know they matter.
UK Youth is committed to improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing through the power of youth work and outdoor learning, valuing meaningful co-production and youth-led social action within its programmes.
Supporting young people’s mental health and giving young people a voice has been a focus for UK Youth for a number years, with projects and funds such as Thriving Minds, Young Changemakers and EmpowHer – a 2022 study found almost a third of young people struggle with their wellbeing.
Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive, said: “We know with the right support, youth workers can spot the signs a young person is experiencing difficulties and support them to open up, talk through what they are going through and seek help if they need it.”
UK Youth’s Thriving Minds fund – created thanks to £10 million from Julia and Hans Rausing and a further £1m from the Westminster Foundation – has seen investment into youth work to support young people’s mental health alongside the services which support them.
Youth work and outdoor learning are a key part of the solution to the crisis in youth mental health, building stronger support systems for young people and championing their voices for change.
Young Changemakers, a collaboration between UK Youth, Centre for Mental Health and The Diana Award, aims to reimagine mental health support for young people from racialised communities. The project is led by young people aged 16-25 with a passion for and/or lived experience of mental health issues and tackling racial injustice.
Programme works with youth organisations to recruit and engage
Meanwhile, the UK Youth-led EmpowHer programme – launched to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018 – successfully encouraged young women and girls to use their voices for positive change, just as their predecessors did 100 years ago.
Young people co-designed the programme with activities and learning around individuals’ rights, wellbeing, empowerment and resilience and to create opportunities to lead and design social action projects.
It was targeted at young women and girls, aged 10-20, with low wellbeing who may have missed out on social action opportunities due to a lack of access, skills or confidence, supporting them to give back to their communities.
It found 63 per cent of the 1,880 young women and girls who took part felt more confident, 53 per cent felt happier, 55 per cent reported an increase in life satisfaction and 63 per cent felt more confident.
One EmpowHER ambassador said: “The most amazing thing I’ve seen through EmpowHER is that young women don’t realise the significance of sisterhood, until they’re in it and then by the end they do! And the love they have for each other at the end is phenomenal.”
Place2Be launched children’s mental health awareness week in 2015 to empower, equip and give a voice to every child in the UK. Now in its 10th year, Place2Be hopes to encourage more people than ever to help it reach its goal that no child or young person has to face a mental health problem alone.
UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as a catalyst for change. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org
UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes
Young Minds offers help and support and resources for young people, parents/carers and practitioners – seeyoungminds.org.uk/ help & support, resources for young people, parents/carers and youth practitioners
Childline is a free, private and confidential service where young people aged up to 19 can talk about anything. Call 0800 1111, or see childline.org.uk
Give us a Shout – giveusashout.org – is is the UK’s first 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis. Get free, confidential mental health support anytime, anywhere. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258.