Towards the end of 2015, YMCA England conducted a body of research to inform its YMCA Manifesto for the General Election, and mental health was a key consideration for us and the young people we serve.
For while much of our work is centred on helping disadvantaged young people off the streets, into a safe environment and back into education or employment, without a healthy mind it is impossible for a young person to live an independent life and secure a better future.
The estimated cost of mental health to the UK economy is between £70bn and £100bn a year and increasing pressure on services is making it more important than ever that support is given to young people as early as possible. This is further accentuated when you consider the fact that half of all adults with mental health difficulties were actually first diagnosed in childhood.
The amazing #IAMWHOLE campaign being run by NHS and YMCA will do much to help raise awareness of young people suffering with mental health difficulties. Not only will it promote greater discussion around it in the media but it will also help to normalise the issue and remove the some of the stigma from those associated with it. As such, YMCA is delighted to partner NHS on this innovative and far-reaching campaign.
We also hope it will complement much of the other work we are doing to provide counselling and therapeutic and early intervention services to young people.
Just a few examples of our amazing work can be seen through our Mental Health Champions scheme; Heads Together, from YMCA East Surrey; the Talk-2-Us service at YMCA West Kent; and the school counselling services at YMCA Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We believe that if we can provide the appropriate mental health support at a young enough age, including in schools, we can help prevent the development and escalation of mental health problems.
In addition to these innovative schemes, YMCAs are also working with public health, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and schools and are using their own expertise to engage and work with young people to offer mental health services that aim to add capacity to the existing offer. In fact, across the country, YMCA works with thousands of young people across the tiers to support and promote good mental and emotional wellbeing.
YMCA’s research suggests there is an urgent need for action and it is our hope that we can use the scale of the YMCA federation to do more, to reach more young people and to have a greater impact.
For more information on YMCA mental health services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are looking for mental health services, visit the Find Get Give directory. Services are being added to Find Get Give on a regular basis but if you can’t find a service near you, check out the help guides and national helplines in the advice section.