Mental health issues are increasing, exacerbated by the covid pandemic, and in young people are no exception.

50% of mental health problems are developed by the age of 14 and we know that, during adolescence there is a natural dip in wellbeing levels. It’s vital we support the wellbeing of young people, to give them the tools they need to cope with life. 

At Worth-it we’re experts in positive psychology, the science of wellbeing, and we’re driven by a passion to support and empower young people, to train those who work with young people so they can support the wellbeing of young people themselves and to empower young people to support each other. At worth-it we firmly believe in prevention, in early intervention to support wellbeing and protect the mental health of young people to reduce the risk of mental illness. 

The Mental Health Foundation (2015) describes wellbeing as “how satisfied people are with their life as a whole, their sense of purpose, and how in control they feel”. In the field of positive psychology this is known as flourishing; studies have found that any young person who is not flourishing is at risk of developing a mental health problem. (1).

It is vital that we support young people to move towards flourishing to prevent the onset of mental health problems. The next three sections will look at three main ways we, as experts, have identified which you can use to improve the wellbeing of the young people you work with and support.

School mental health and wellbeing

Adolescents, who are just on the road to adulthood and independence, can find it harder than some age groups to ask for help. It’s important to let them know where support can be found when they need it.

Embedding a culture of wellbeing in your school and college will help protect the wellbeing of staff and students. If pupils and staff know that their wellbeing is a priority, they will feel more able to speak with others about any worries or concerns and feel more valued within the school community.

A culture of wellbeing isn’t simply saying that the school supports wellbeing on the website or putting up a few posters around classroom, but a feeling that everyone has within the school community, that individual’s strengths are recognised, and staff and students feel valued, understood empowered and trusted.

Our DfE Assured Wellbeing Club programme is designed to help senior mental health leads develop a sustainable culture and ethos of wellbeing. Creating an environment in which young people can flourish and thrive is important for the prevention of mental health problems and to ensure the success of targeted interventions such as coaching, or peer to peer support.

Targeted intervention and prevention through coaching

Coaching is a personalised, usually one-to-one, intervention through which a trained coach supports and empowers a young person by helping them develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and responsibility to enable them to achieve their goals. Coaching supports young people to develop resilience and increases their levels of wellbeing, protecting their mental health and helping them cope with challenges life may bring. Coaching helps young people to identify their own strengths and feel more confident, more hopeful, and more in control of their own environment: more empowered to make positive changes. Coaching is an early intervention which can help young people manage existing mental health problems, such as anxiety and reduce the risk of onset of mental illness. 

For more insight into how coaching can improve wellbeing in young people, read our recent articles ‘Why coach young people?’, ‘What is wellbeing coaching for young people’ and ‘Three ways positive psychology coaching helps young people improve wellbeing’. 

Peer to peer wellbeing support

Students who feel part of a school community, and who can develop positive relationships with their peers, generally feel happier and more able to cope with stress factors in their lives, such as exam pressures or issues at home – they experience higher levels of wellbeing and are less likely to develop depression and/or anxiety. Peer support programmes are those that train young people to help others learn and develop emotionally, socially, or academically.

Peer support, is an effective way of improving wellbeing amongst young people, giving them someone who will listen, someone they can relate to and trust, when they may feel unable to go to an adult with their worries or concerns. Effective methods of peer support include young people running campaigns to increase awareness of support available to peers, peer mentoring, organising drop-in sessions or designating an area in a school or college where their peers can go to find help/build friendships.

Increased wellbeing and resilience are protective factors in good mental health. Peer support has been shown to significantly increase resilience and wellbeing in young people. The benefits of peer-to-peer support are felt by the young person offering the support as well as the young person who receives it. Read more about the benefits peer to peer support in our impact report. Our Wellbeing Ambassadors programme is a peer support programme we’ve designed with young people, for young people, which provides the resources and training you’ll need to train your young people to become Wellbeing Ambassadors in your school or setting. 

Find out more and next steps

Want to know more about our Wellbeing Club, visit our comprehensive programme page or read our ‘Why bother joining the Wellbeing Club?’ blog article. To find out how to get funding for your school to join our Wellbeing Club access our FREE funding webinar.

Find out more about our evidence-based (2) approach to developing resilience in young people through coaching by coming along to our FREE coaching webinars.

You may also be interested in training your team to learn how to become a coach and use positive psychology coaching to support young people.

For tips on how to implement a Wellbeing Ambassadors Programme in your school or college, download our free cheat sheet.

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