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Published: August 26, 2020 | Updated: September 3, 2020

Mind Your Head: Charity secures six-figure sum to help support young people’s mental health

Tracey Digby and Toni-Sue White (both Child and Young People Service Practitioners) and Gabriella Cox (Children and Young People Service Coordinator).
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset Mind is to expand its support programme for young people’s mental health after being awarded a six-figure sum by the National Lottery.

The mental health charity says the grant, which is over three years, will enable it to roll out mental health education and wellbeing support to nine middle schools and 18 secondary schools.

In addition, the funding will deliver a range of support groups and train young ambassadors to raise mental health and wellbeing awareness among their peers.

Marianne Storey, Dorset Mind’s Chief Executive, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we know that many young people have struggled with their mental health and wellbeing.

“This grant couldn’t come at a better time.”

The ‘Dorset Mind Your Head’ programme is a whole-school approach to mental health support.

It means the charity not only supports and educates the students but helps increase the understanding of parents and teachers about mental health.

As a result they are able to to support the emotional mental health and wellbeing of the students.

In total, the charity aims to help 19,500 young people, 3,300 parents and 5,700 staff in schools as well as an additional 648 young people at other community-based support groups as part of the ‘Connected Minds’ programme.

Dorset Mind Your Head was piloted in 2018, funded by a group of six local Rotary Clubs.

Since then, expansion has exceeded expectations due to the need for adolescent mental health support in Dorset.

Marianne, pictured left, said: “We’re so grateful to the National Lottery for funding the expansion of our truly life-changing programme.

“This incredible grant will help secure our Young People’s programme for three years.

“Importantly, it means we can reach a significant number of young people, their parents and teachers across Dorset. 

“Even before Covid-19, there was evidence that at least one in eight children and young people aged five to 16 live with a diagnosable mental health condition.

“Dorset Community Foundation’s ‘Hidden Dorset’ Report 2018 found that 50 per cent of young people surveyed wanted help dealing with stress, and 44 per cent needed help with mental health issues – that’s many children in every class.

“In this new Covid-19 world, we suspect that these numbers are going to be much higher.

“The size of the problem  is extremely worrying.

“For the young people themselves, of course, but also their families, classmates, teachers and communities as a whole.

“But we know we can make a real difference with this programme and we are passionate about making it a success.

“The key is to educate young people at an early age and at an early stage of their concerns.

“By doing so, there is a chance that we can stop small issues becoming considerable problems.”

Anna Powney, Dorset Mind Your Head’s Children & Young People Service Manager, said: “I have repeatedly heard young people express a desire to learn about mental health and emotional well-being so that they can develop essential skills to help them best navigate their own and others’ complex emotional needs.

“It’s such a valued gift to receive this funding which allows us to continue to do exactly that, to educate and support young people, building their mental health awareness.

“We provide vital mental health support, as well as upskilling school staff and family members too.

“A big thank you to the National Lottery for making this happen.”

Dr Andy Mayers, Dorset Mind Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, pictured right, said the National Lottery funding was a major boost for the young people of Dorset.

He added: “We know that the earlier we can reach young people to support their mental health, the more likely we will equip them to have the toolkits to improve their wellbeing and potentially reduce the lifetime impact of poor mental health.

“As Dorset Mind Patron, I am especially pleased that we can support our young people locally.

“As a member of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, I am delighted that we can share this example of good practice with national programmes.

“Young people are our future.

“We owe it to them to ensure that they can live their lives more productively and healthily.”

  • For more information about Dorset Mind Your Head, or if you would like to contribute or volunteer to help this essential service for young people, please see the charity’s website.