Youth Zone at Home: OnSide's response to Covid-19
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As lockdown ends, CareTech Foundation partners with the OnSide Network of Youth Zones to identify and address early signs of mental illness in young people.
Before lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 8 young people aged 5 to 19 were reported to have one or more mental health issues.
Young people’s charity OnSide and grant making foundation The CareTech Charitable Foundation have entered a partnership that will help identify and provide mental health support to young people across the charity’s Youth Zone network. The Project, which is also supported by the Rayne Foundation, is part of Onside’s ‘Culture of Health’ initiative established in partnership with the Oglesby Charitable Trust.
“Bridging the Gap” is focused on upskilling staff at OnSide’s Youth Zones and providing access to sigma free, multidisciplinary mental health care to young people who are experiencing, or at risk of developing mental health issues. Trained staff will work with young people to identify problems and offer support before they reach a crisis point.
Young people will also have the opportunity to access 6-week issues-based workshops, one to one tailored support from Youth Zone staff, or work with a Health and Wellbeing Manager to secure specialist support from external agencies as appropriate.
CareTech Foundation’s donation of £90,000 over the next two years will go towards implementing “Bridging The Gap” at 10 locations across the UK. The foundation, having primarily funded advocacy and research mental health initiatives, add a physical element to their mental health funding work in supporting “Bridging the Gap”
A year into the programme, “Bridging the Gap” has delivered very specific interventions for 256 young people suffering from, or are at risk of developing, mental health issues. Secondarily these efforts have engaged over 8,000 young people due to the prioritisation of mental health during the pandemic. By year three they hope to build a skilled workforce across all their locations, potentially supporting 50,000 young people in the process.
In the coming years, programmes like “Bridging the Gap” could prove to be more necessary than ever.
This January, Young Person’s charity Young Minds conducted a survey asking 2,438 young people aged 13-25, between 26th January and 12th February 2021 about the effects the latest lockdown has had on their mental health.
Deep anxiety, self harm, panic attacks, loss of motivation, loneliness, isolation and concerns about school and future job prospects were reported as having major impacts on the mental health of these young people.
“I found lockdown really difficult. The Youth Zone’s welfare calls and activities kept me focused. I had told them that I previously had one evening of self‐harming and suicidal thoughts. They implemented a full action plan for me. I am now getting professional counselling which is helping me to adapt to a new way of living and a dedicated youth worker is supporting me through doorstep visits, mentoring and welfare calls”.
Andrew, an OnSide Youth Zone member.
As a result of these findings, Young Minds has suggested that the Government ensure local charities and youth clubs, which provide vital early mental health support, survive the economic impact of pandemic. And, in the longer term, introduce a national network of community early intervention hubs, which provide open-access mental health support in non-medicalised settings. Programmes like Bridge the Gap fit into this recommendation by providing the mental health support, resources and structure young people will need as society opens back up.
Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide said:
“The COVID-19 crisis has meant that, more than ever, our youth workers have been supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people across the country. We are thrilled to have CareTech Foundation’s support which will help us reach even more young people with this programme.”