Early Intervention Through Peer Mentoring - Bedfordshire Wellbeing Ambassadors Programme

How Worth-it provided support and resources for success!

Project collaborators

Bedford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
Bedford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
Bedford Borough Council
Bedford Borough Council
East London NHS Foundation Trust
East London NHS Foundation Trust

Project Write-Up

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Introduction

In 2018, Worth-it Positive Education CIC was commissioned to develop and deliver a train the trainer programme in partnership with Bedford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and local schools. Key members of staff, such as CAMHS school link and early help team from the local authoity, were trained to train peer mentors within schools.

Commissioners Identified Needs

Bedford CAMHS identified a need for a train the trainer programme to improve the peer-to-peer support within schools. Peer support programmes are those that train young people to help others learn and develop emotionally, socially or academically.

Peer Mentoring is a form of early intervention for young people and helps to normalise conversations about mental wellbeing – young people learn positive strategies from peers, as well as having an opportunity to talk about worries, concerns and things that might be bothering them, or preventing them from speaking to an adult or accessing specialist services.

Worth-it Positive Education CIC were commissioned to deliver training to 20 trainers so they could return to their settings and train young people to provide support to their peers in the shape of informal mentoring interventions, lunchtime drop-ins and mental health and wellbeing campaigns.

Project Delivery

We combined coaching psychology and positive psychology techniques to produce a peer mentoring train the trainer programme – our Wellbeing Ambassadors Programme – that was developed and delivered across 10 secondary school settings. This included 4 days of training for the facilitators by our consultants, creation of resources for facilitators, Wellbeing Ambassadors and their peers. Once trained, the facilitators delivered the programme in their school, using the coaching and mentoring skills they’d learned and the resources we supplied. This was also delivered with multi-agency team training, for the local authority early help team and CAMHS school link team.

Before the programme was delivered, questionnaires were completed by control groups and the pupils who would be receiving peer support and then again after the programme had been delivered, so we could measure the impact of the intervention and build up a clear picture of how beneficial the programme had been. The Wellbeing Ambassadors were also surveyed before and after taking part in the programme, along with the programme coordinators (facilitators).

Outcomes

  • Average measures of wellbeing (p<0.01) and resilience (p<0.05) for the Younger Peers increased significantly following the programme (Figure 1).
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Figure 1: Average Younger Peer Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Scale scores before and after the programme                                      

  • 75% of Programme Coordinators planned to run the programme again the following year and would recommend it 10/10 to friends or colleagues.
  • 60% of the younger peers who had received peer support showed an increase on the wellbeing scale with the average peer score increasing from 36.1 to 41.5 after the programme. In contrast, only 41% of the control group experienced an increase in their wellbeing during this same period with the average control score decreasing from 44.5 to 42.2 (Figure 2).
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Figure 2: Average Worth-it Resilience Profile Scores: Comparison of Younger Peers against Year 7 Control Group                                        

  • Using the Worth-it resilience profile score, 70% of the younger peers displayed an increase in resilience in comparison to only 27% of the control group.
  • Worryingly, 57% of students in the year 7 control group (individuals who didn't take part in the programme) showed a decrease on the wellbeing scale during this period and 70% showed a decrease in resilience.

Impacts

The Younger Peers and Wellbeing Ambassadors described a host of personal benefits gained from participation in the programme.

One of the main terms used in the qualitative feedback from the younger peers was confidence:

  • “I have become more confident in school and in my lessons”
  • “I have really enjoyed it and out of it has made me really confident and positive.”
  • “I also find talking about being yourself and contributing to discussions and lessons has really been helpful and made me boost my confidence everywhere I go.”
  • “I would like to say I have really enjoyed this programme and it has really helped me in all different ways, I am now more confident in myself and braver to participate to a lot of things, before I was a quite misbehaved person in the past, but now having the opportunity to be in these lessons I have gathered strength and good behaviour. I really enjoyed this.”
  • “I think having these lessons has had a really big impact on my behaviour and confidence both at home and at school.”

When asked, what have you learned/gained from taking part in the Wellbeing Ambassadors programme, many of Younger Peers also highlighted how having someone to talk to had really helped them:

  • “I have gained the skill of being able to talk to older people”
  • “I have learned that when you feel down just take a deep breath and just keep calm, there is always someone to talk to.”
  • “I have learnt that is better to tell someone than keep it all in and when I told someone it was a huge wait off my shoulders.”
  • “I have learned that its ok to be yourself and that you should always participate in situations whether it be tough situations, or good situations. I have also learned to share my ideas and emotions to others even if some people may not agree with me.”
  • “I always have someone to talk to. It is better to tell people than to keep it in and they will help me in any way they can.”

The students who had been trained as Wellbeing Ambassadors also found the experience a positive one:

  • “I mentored 5 individuals and they all experienced the mentoring differently. One of them was very reliant during and after the sessions. I built a positive relationship with all of them and they were all able to come to the sessions and open up and talk about experiences.”
  • “I've learned to speak in a specific way that won't make the peer feel uncomfortable/ judged. I learned not to push someone into talking about something that they may not wish to talk about.”
  • “I am being more open about my feelings to others and learning to deal with difficult situations better.”
  • “It has helped me see things from a different perspective and put myself in the shoes of another so that I can help them as much as possible. I also feel that I have learnt how to deal with different types of situations in a more sensible manner. Finally, having a positive impact on someone who needs support, has helped me to become more positive about things myself and try to find something good out of everything that doesn't go to plan- including being able to improvise and adapt things.”

The Programme Coordinators were asked, what impacts have you noticed the programme having so far on the younger Peers who received support?

  • “More confidence around the school. Happier coming into school.”
  • “They feel special. They like the time they have with their mentor. Several have asked for the sessions to continue and the mentors have agreed to continue to meet the students.”
  • “More confidence in and around school, better decisions re: behaviour and communication when behaviour issues/ uncertainty occurs in school.”
  • “The younger peers have grown in confidence throughout the process with one of the year 7 students speaking in front of 40 trainee teachers about the wellbeing programme and what she got out of it!”

Appendix

Evaluation data was returned from 5 settings, covering 31 Younger Peers, 21 Wellbeing Ambassadors and 4 Programme Coordinators.

Data Measures

The measures and scales used for this evaluation were:

  1. Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Scale
  2. Worth-it Resilience Profile
  3. Bespoke qualitative surveys

The Stirling Children’s Well-being Scale* (SCWBS) was developed by the Stirling Council Educational Psychology Service (UK) as a holistic, positively worded measure of mental wellbeing in children and has been validated as a robust measure and is part of the Public Health England & Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families toolkit for measuring and monitoring children and young people’s mental wellbeing in schools and colleges.

*(Liddle, I. and Carter, G.F.A (2015). Emotional and psychological wellbeing in children: the development and validation of the Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Scale. Educational Psychology in Practice, 21(2), 174-185)

The Worth-it Resilience Profile (WRP) compliments the SCWBS by monitoring levels of abilities and skills which are important facilitators of wellbeing and resilience. The WRP is based on a set of interrelated abilities and skills that research has shown young people find helpful in increasing choice and control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and in helping them deal with situations.

Qualitative surveys were created to collect rich and personal feedback from the Wellbeing Ambassadors, the younger peers supported by the programme and the programme coordinators. These surveys enable participants to express their personal perspectives regarding their experience of the programme.

Data Measures

Younger Peers - Before and after SCWBS and WRP measures, plus a post programme qualitative survey.

Year 7 Control Group - Before and after SCWBS and WRP measures.

Wellbeing Ambassadors - Before and after SCWBS and WRP measures, plus a post programme qualitative survey.

Programme Coordinators - Post programme qualitative survey.

Early Intervention and Prevention

The purpose of an early intervention approach is to work in partnership to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. The aim is to address problems at the earliest opportunity before they escalate and help to prevent long-term poor outcomes.

Our approach to early intervention is to prevent the development of mental health problems through promoting strategies that improve mental wellbeing and, in doing so, protect against mental illness. All our work helps children and young people move up the mental health spectrum towards flourishing.

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Adapted from Keyes (2007)

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