Why We Do It
Stress, depression and anxiety, once conditions experienced mainly by older people, now affect younger age groups.
It is not uncommon for teenagers and young adults to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression as they struggle to complete their education, pass examinations, and survive in complex family arrangements. In addition, teenagers may be coping with family break-ups, cross-cultural differences, bullying, the need to conform socially, gain work experience and find a job; compounded by the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid peer pressures use alcohol and drugs.
Poor mental health, including depression, is closely associated with major illnesses including heart disease, obesity and addictions. Once smoking is excluded, no other conditions are more closely associated with physical ill health than stress, anxiety and depression.
Research by Young Minds a leading UK charity states: “One in ten children and young people have a diagnosable mental disorder, which is equivalent to three children in every classroom”.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) have identified that around three in four of 5-15 year olds with mental health problems are not in contact with them. For example, Enfield CAMHS provides support for young people with severe mental health difficulties and complex needs at Tiers 3 and 4, meaning those children and young people requiring a high level of specialist input.
Young people with less complex needs are considered to be Tier 1 and 2. These are individuals who might refer themselves to a mental health service (Tier 1) or be referred by their General Practitioner (Tier 2) for further support with undiagnosed and borderline mental health difficulties
It is this group (Tier 1 and Tier 2) who are not currently supported within London Boroughs, that JCF looks to support with mentoring programmes, workshops and youth worker.
Recent current affairs (e.g. the Grenfell tower tragedy and subsequent evacuation of other properties; the Syrian refugee crisis) have resulted in young people across London who are experiencing mental ill health as a result of trauma and disruption to their lives.
As City Bridge Trust itself says on its website, mental ill health is more prevalent in London than in the rest of the UK and the mental health needs of Londoners can be complex. Yet fewer than 40% of teachers are trained to spot a child or young person exhibiting symptoms of poor mental health. Part of the JCF education programme focuses on raising awareness of mental health and well-being in the classroom and providing simple strategies to help improve early detection.
We have a number of case studies that clearly show how useful mentoring has been in supporting individuals. For example:
- As a result of advertising our services in BME newspapers and organisations (particularly Turkish, Black and Greek) one mentee, Eddie, a young man who refused to leave his bedroom and socialise and who terrorised his family was actively involved in sport and attending Enfield College 8 weeks after his mentoring services began. Eddie’s family (who were extremely distressed before the beginning of our involvement, a situation exacerbated by their poor understanding of English) have informed JCF Mentoring that their son has transformed. Eddie’s father, himself suffering from depression has been able to reduce and stop his medication. Within 12 weeks of his placement, Eddie was in full-time employment, due mainly to his mentor, who was supporting him by encouraging him to attend work experience placements and take regular sports activities. Now, the family has greater peace of mind, and Eddie, is fully engaged with his life.
- Working in partnership with CAMHS and Enfield Education Department, we mentored (and are currently mentoring) a secondary school pupil, Jenny, from one of Enfield’s schools. Jenny is suffering from mental health difficulties from when she was permanently excluded from school when she was 12 years old. The young mentee is currently participating in extra-curricular activity. Before JCF’s involvement, the pupil had vilified her parents and refused to engage with them. She would stay in her room on the internet all the time. We managed to get her out of her room to do drama and other activities. JCF worked alongside Social Services and CAMHS in supporting Jenny and her family. This enabled Jenny to return to another secondary school after two years out of education. This has resulted in the young person improving her school attendance and behaviour, improved relationships with the family, and participation in recreational activities with her family and peers. The mentee’s family have praised JCF and the impact our services have had on Jenny and have asked us to continue mentoring the young person until she reaches 16; Jenny is now 15 years old.