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Adults working with young people in the community feel under-equipped to support their mental health

Mental health charity YoungMinds has announced it is rolling out new training and resources to help ‘trusted adults’ better support the mental health of the young people they work with1.

The new offer comes following research commissioned by the charity, with adults who work with under 25s in the community, which found that 87% frequently support young people with their mental health, but many feel under-equipped to spot the warning signs of distress.  The research also found that:

  • There is a strong appetite among youth workers to be the ‘trusted adults’ young people need, but they need more training, support and guidance to do this.
  • Young people from Black and minoritised backgrounds said they struggled to find trusted adults in their communities.
  • Many youth workers and young people struggle to access mental health support and information about it.
“When a young person is having a hard time with their mental health, they will often first reach out to an adult they trust in their life. Being the adult a young person turns to when they open up about their mental health can be a rewarding but challenging responsibility. Whether you work at a youth club, coach a sports team, or run extra-curricular activities outside of school, you can play a really positive and crucial role in the lives of young people.

“A key focus for us at YoungMinds is making sure young people have adults in their lives who can help. This report highlights that many adults need to feel better equipped to offer this support. That’s why we’ve developed tips and resources as well as dedicated training, so that when a young person turns to an adult they trust for support, those adults can feel confident in identifying and understanding the early warning signs, and respond positively to young people’s mental health needs.”
Deirdre Kehoe, Director of Training and Services, at YoungMinds
“My trusted adult is my landlady. I remember when I was struggling with my eating a few months ago I was able to call her for support. When she was visiting her mum a couple of miles from me she made food for me and we ate together which made things much easier.

“I've always dealt with my eating disorder on my own in the past, so to have someone there was just invaluable. Whenever I got myself into a cycle of not eating she was there to break me out of it and stop me from getting too set in a pattern. Thanks to her it was without doubt the easiest time I've had with food when I've been struggling.

“Young people need to have people in their lives that they can go to for support. Having someone that a young person can talk to who they know won't judge them, will point them in the right direction, or even just someone to listen to them is so amazing to have. So many times my trusted adult says to me that she doesn't know how to solve the problem I'm having, but actually just having someone listen that you know cares about you is what you really need when it feels like no one else does. Just knowing someone is there, fighting your corner, being there when you need them to be, it really does make all the difference.”
Rachael, 23 and an Activist for YoungMinds
"This research really demonstrated the value of youth work. It showed above all else how much young people value their relationship with their youth worker as their trusted adult. That the relationship is without expectation, judgement and hierarchy really helps a young person open up to their youth worker, which is particularly important when a young person is struggling with their mental health. Youth workers need more support to build their knowledge and confidence to support young people with their mental health and together with YoungMinds UK Youth is committed to unlocking this."
Stephanie Talbut, Assistant Director of Strategy, Research & Impact at UK Youth, who led the research
“The world has changed a lot because of the pandemic, there has been less conversations face to face, less connections between people. Having that one trusted adult can make a massive change to one person’s life. Someone to talk about their mental health who isn’t judgemental, is supportive and understanding. The reason I am a Youth Worker is because I had a good Youth Worker myself – who showed me they cared. Being able to pass all of this on to more young people is amazing. So making these resources is so needed right now and really important to help us support young people’s mental health. If a Youth Worker is well supported, then they’re going to be a better support to a young person”
Corinna Hartley, HSH Young People’s Engagement

The offering includes worksheets, posters and training. Take a look at our resources, tips and advice to help support young people.

Community support

For further information and for interview requests please contact press@youngminds.org.uk or call 0203 861 2072.

1 The youth-led definition of a ‘trusted adult’ developed through this research is someone who is chosen by a young person as a safe figure that listens without judgement, agenda or expectation, but with the sole purpose of supporting and encouraging positivity within a young person’s life. Young people found trusted adults in a range of settings, including in their local youth club, in pastoral teams in schools, in their extended family or in places of worship.

2 Read the full report. The survey was carried out by UK Youth with 248 adults who work or interact with young people from 31 January 2022 to 16 March 2022.

The charity previously published results from surveys with young people about the mental health impact of COVID-19

About YoungMinds

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health.

Follow us on Twitter @YoungMindsUK and Facebook

For free advice and support for parents, call our helpline on 0808 802 5544

About UK Youth 

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of over 8000 youth organisations and nation partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we are focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit the UK Youth website

 For more information please contact communcations@ukyouth.org   

About YoungMinds

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health.

Follow us on Twitter @YoungMindsUK and Facebook.

For free advice and support for parents, call our helpline on 0808 802 5544.

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