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Rates of mental health problems reported among children and young people have risen over the last fifty years. Currently in the UK over 850,000 have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Among teenagers, rates of anxiety and depression increased by over 70% in the past 25 years and the incidence of reported self harm has also risen, with one in 15 young people now thought to be affected.

Left unresolved, mental health problems significantly affect children and young people’s social and educational development. Paradoxically, the time at which most help is often needed – the period of transition from childhood into adulthood – is exactly the time when services are currently least able to meet that need.

Failure to treat mental health disorders in children can have a devastating impact on their future, resulting in reduced job and life expectations and, as such, appropriate measures of prevention and early intervention to tackle mental distress need to be implemented. Intervening early for children with mental health problems has been shown not only to reduce health costs but also realise larger savings such as improved educational outcomes and reduced unemployment and crime. Better care of young people’s mental health can be ensured in schools through better training of staff and raising awareness of bullying, aggression and exclusion practices.

Poor relationships have heavy outcomes on young people’s educational, behavioural, social and psychological attitudes and, therefore, there is a great need to provide support for parents.

There are CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service) services in Kent however that deal with children’s difficulties that are of a complex or acute nature. Most emotional difficulties do not require an intervention from specialist CAMHS and are better treated by an early intervention measure. In Kent 15% (over 35,000) of the total population of young people are likely to come into the category of needing some type of support for their emotional and behaviour problems and this is not necessarily provided by the CAMHS specialist services. This early intervention is not currently being provided in the Kent area. Our service is not currently reaching these young people quickly enough which results in them eventually needing more intensive support.

Following some consultation with young people in our community more than 1 in ten reported feelings of anxiety, depression mainly resulting from a direct response from what is happening in their lives.

Mental health problems are tied up with issues of risk, deprivation and vulnerability and can be part of a negative life journey resulting in social exclusion, low achievement, adult mental health problems, relationship breakdown etc.

Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind (MMKM) continue to seek funding to enable us to deliver and focus specifically on young people. Teenagers often experience emotional turmoil as their minds and bodies develop. An important part of growing up is working out and accepting who you are. Some young people find it hard to make this transition to adulthood and may experiment with substance misuse and participate in risk taking behaviour. It is important for young people to understand their mental health problems and where to receive information about where they can access support options and advice.

In addition to identified needs, there is a critical element of support needed for young people whose needs are unrecognised eg. unhealthy relationships, abuse etc. There is also the over arching need to remove the stigma and discrimination attached to mental health and normalising the issues that arise in young adulthood such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence.

Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind (MMKM) are working to address some of these issues by providing a range of low cost services to support young people with their mental health and wellbeing. MMKM are currently working in 7 secondary schools through Mid Kent to provide a weekly presence of a Mind worker to support pupils in addition to working closely with a number of Early Help Providers.

The courses below are some of the interventions we are currently funded within these schools to deliver;

  • We run 6 week courses that can be adapted to the needs identified by the organisation we are working with and the young participants. We work through understanding what mental health is, how it can become negative and the ways in which this can manifest. We look at causes of negative mental wellbeing and deliver sessions that look to build confidence, self-esteem and coping mechanisms. (Courses run have shown a 56% increase in participants reported wellbeing.)
  • Managing Me – A 6 week course specifically designed
    for young people to learn how to cope with life and focuses on dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and self-image.
  •  Taming My Temper – A 6 week course dealing with anger management specifically designed for young people that may have issues controlling their emotions and want to reduce the levels of anger and hostility that they display.
  • Beat Bullying – A 90 minute anti-bullying workshop designed to be undertaken with a school year group or youth club. Beat Bullying looks at the effects of bullying on both the victim and the perpetrator.
  • Being Boosted – A 6 week course to improve confidence and self esteem.
  • Bounce Back – An 8 week course that helps young people become more emotionally resilient.
  • Girls at Risk – A 5 week programme aimed at supporting girls who are at risk of entering into unhealthy relationships, low self-esteem & worth.
  • Self-Harm prevention – A 4 week course that works with groups of people at risk of self harming to provide information and support about self-harm and introduce alternative ways of managing it.
  • Mental Health first aid course is an intensive two day course, aimed at those without specialist mental health training.

Course aim: To increase the knowledge and confidence of delegates to enable them to provide first aid and support for people experiencing a mental health problem. MHFA is a certificated course, which has been in development for ten years and has an international profile in 15 countries.

During the last 6 months MMKM have been supported by
a number of local counsellors in Swale, Ashford and Medway to provide mental health awareness sessions in 13 Secondary Schools – this has provided us with the opportunity to provide school staff with the knowledge of what is mental health and how prevalent are the problems, what is stress, anxiety and depression and what are the signs of them and how we can help. The sessions have provided over 450 members of school staff now being able to recognise early signs of mental health issues and this will hopefully provide early support for many young people.

MMKM are keen to develop the support we can offer within schools and youth provisions. If you are interested in exploring how we can work with you please contact Julie Blackmore, CEO of Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind.

Julie Blackmore
CEO. Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind

T: 01622 692383 E: julieblackmore@mmkmind.org.uk

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