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Young people supporting each other with their mental health

Young people supporting each other with their mental health

Investing in Children's Peer Mentoring Programme

A project that enables young people to support their peers with their mental health and confidence has been a big success with the students at Consett Academy.

Investing in Children's Peer Mentoring Programme, which we supported with over £9,000 from our Investing in Communities Fund, trained teachers on how they could support Peer Mentors and also worked with students to develop a Peer Mentoring system that was driven by their own ideas. By the end of the training delivery, the students decided to deliver lunchtime drop-in sessions for younger students, giving them a safe space to build their confidence, make new friends and access support for their mental health.   

In addition to this, the Peer Mentors designed these sessions to give students a place to relax, talk about how they’re feeling, take part in different activities (e.g. drawing, mindful colouring) and play some games (e.g. Monopoly, Chess, Who am I, Hangman).

The programme started with a group of students in Year 12 and 13 at Consett Academy. These students received training which encouraged them to think about how they’d like support the wellbeing of other students in the academy. The training covered topics like how Peer Mentors can build supportive relationships with other students, the importance of confidentiality and when Peer Mentors need to ask for help from school staff.      

As with a lot of things over the past two years, COVID-19 restrictions meant that there were delays in getting the project up and running. However, the staff were still able begin and complete their training virtually, allowing them to begin supporting Peer Mentoring in the Academy.

Initially, the Peer Mentors were slightly anxious about delivering support sessions to other students and weren’t sure how many would attend. However, these sessions have proven to be a big success. 25 students across the different year groups have come to these drop-in sessions, taken part in the different activities/games on offer and have spoken very positively about the support the Peer Mentors have provided.

Ten of the students who took part in the training have received an ASDAN accreditation in peer mentoring and all of the Peer Mentors have been very outspoken about how much they’ve enjoyed using their time to support other students and create a peer mentoring programme that is driven by their own ideas.

You can hear all about it in this short video in which students talk about their experiences with the project:

So far there have been over 40 weekly drop-in sessions delivered and the Peer Mentoring Programme will continue to run until the end of term. It also has the potential to continue into the next year. Students in Year 9 are soon to be trained up to take over as Peer Mentors.

Peer Support Worker, Louis Hurst said: 

"From the start the Peer Mentors at Consett Academy worked really hard to support others around them. I had a great time coming in to deliver the sessions and it’s been really fantastic to see what they’ve created as Peer Mentors in the academy."

Peer Support Worker, Tad Billam said:

"I’m inspired by the fact that every day of the week at lunch time, Year 7s in Consett Academy have the chance to engage with and be supported by Sixth Form Peer Mentors. The Mentors have truly put their training and passion for being there for others into practise and hearing them and the Year 7s speak about the difference this makes is wonderful."

Investing in Children have also linked up with Stamp it Out, an organisation that’s dedicated to challenging issues related to mental health stigma and discrimination. This collaboration will help the Peer Mentors to learn more about how they can use their position to talk with students in Consett Academy about the negative impacts that mental health stigma/discrimination can have.

Investing in Children (CiC) is a children’s human rights organisation working in partnership with children and young people to exercise their rights and participate in decisions that affect them.

As an organisation they support young people of all ages and living in all circumstances to help to shape local services in their communities.

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27 May 2022

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