Led by voluntary organisation Young Devon, a recent study found youth clubs could help prevent young people developing serious mental health issues, through strong relationships with staff and the signposting they offer. But it also revealed a hunger among youth workers for training to help improve the support they provide. So Young Devon teamed up with the charity YoungMinds to develop a training programme.

Action: In April 2013, Young Devon started delivering one-day training to youth workers across the South West. Divided into three sessions, the training provides an introduction to mental health problems, covering topics such as the adolescent brain and risk factors that can lead to mental health issues in young people such as low self-esteem, parental separation and homelessness. The course explores how participants can help build young people’s resilience through their daily work. “It’s about youth workers building up meaningful relationships with young people, being a reliable, trusted adult, providing good role models, encouraging a sense of belonging and helping them build friendships,” says Young Devon project lead Keith Coulston. Participants are provided with a mental health toolkit, containing information about common issues, such as self-harm or depression, and guidance on responding to them. The packs outline activities for tackling these issues and include checklists to help signpost young people to appropriate specialist services. Across the South West, 140 professionals and volunteers have been trained over the last two years. In addition, 45 people have been trained to deliver the training to others at sessions in the South West, Midlands and London. The Esmée Fairbairn grant has also enabled Young Devon to improve monitoring of its work and funded the development of a website offering mental health information to young people.

Outcomes: Before the course, half of 128 participants said they felt knowledgeable about young people’s mental health and wellbeing, compared with 94 per cent afterwards. Before, 47 per cent felt knowledgeable and confident about promoting resilience in young people, compared with 91 per cent afterwards. The percentage who felt confident about identifying mental health risk factors went from 46 to 93 per cent and the percentage who felt confident about accessing sources of information and advice about young people’s mental health increased from 43 to 91 per cent.