Mind matters

Volunteering Matters is hosting an event for young people to mark World Mental Health Day today. Sianne Morgan, Development Manager at Volunteering Matters tells us why the Mind Matters project is so important for young people across Torfaen, Wales.

Last year I was saddened, though perhaps not surprised, to find that in our survey of young people, 76 per cent felt anxious and in a low mood at least once a week.

For the past 17 years I have supported volunteers and delivered projects across Wales and met many young people along the way. Based in Pontypool, I oversee a number of youth projects while also delivering three projects myself; Beyond Transitions, Activ8 and Mind Matters.

Prior to launching Mind Matters we surveyed 200 young people on the issues that concerned them and the barriers they faced – over 90 per cent stated that they didn’t know enough about mental health issues to recognise if help or support was needed. In fact, 85 per cent expressed that they just wouldn’t know what to do if they had a friend who they thought had mental health concerns.

We knew that something needed to change and so building on our experience of running successful peer-led volunteer projects for young people, Mind Matters was created.

Mind Matters aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 14 – 25 living across Torfaen in south Wales. Working with CAMHS, Primary Mental Health and Public Health Wales, the Mind Matters project trains young volunteers to deliver peer-led workshops on mental health in youth settings across the area.

The peer-led approach allows a safe space for young people to discuss worries, concerns and hopefully work towards supporting the 1 in 10 children in the UK who are affected by mental health problems.

We know from our Sex Matters Too project, which uses a similar approach to help raise young people’s awareness of issues surrounding healthy relationships, that sharing information through a peer-led approach can really help to assist young people in developing the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to look for support when required.

This World Mental Health Day we’re inviting young people from across Torfaen to join us for a tea & talk activity in Pontypool’s Bread of Heaven Café. Young Volunteers who have trained in the Mind Matters project will be available at the session to help with some fun table activities and keep the conversations flowing.

With the support of the local community and our amazing volunteers, we hope that next World Mental Health Day we’ll be able to report that more young people know how to access vital mental health information and support for themselves and their peers.