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How mentoring can help young people’s mental health

How mentoring can help young people’s mental health

A few weeks ago, Youth Employment UK published their annual Youth Voice Census to show how young people feel about life, study, work and general prospects.

It’s the largest survey of young people in the UK with 4,000 people aged between 11-30 taking part.

This year’s report highlights the shocking reality that young people are in an escalating state of mental health crisis. Their website says:

“At the same time, we have seen a stall in careers education and work experience, skill development, work prospects and promotions. With a lack of necessary support networks and a safe routine, young people are worried and immobilised with fear.”

It isn’t the first time we’ve heard these concerns. The young people talking to their mentors on our online platform share the same fears about exam stress, job prospects and lack of support networks.

But it is why we exist: to help these young people make confident and informed decisions. We know mentoring has a positive impact on young people’s lives and we can prove it by the outcomes we measure in our Theory of Change.

Four aspects of our outcomes data particularly align to the Youth Voice Census results:

1. Mental health emergency

Growing up brings its own unique struggles, but recently these have been compounded by COVID-19, the cost of living crisis and political uncertainty.

The report finds that self-belief is at an all-time low, and we address this by increasing hope and self-efficacy in young people, helping them to cope better through matching them with an inspirational role model who encourages them and answers the questions they’re afraid to ask.

2. Difference is disadvantage

If you are ‘different’ in the UK, you’re likely to experience additional disadvantage. It seems almost unnecessary to say that young people on free school meals, from an ethnic minority, who are LGBTQ+, or have disabilities face even more barriers than their peers.

We support these young people by matching them with mentors who improve their self-belief and confidence by showing them their dreams are achievable.

3. Unprepared for the future

Only 36% of young people have access to work experience, meaning they feel less confident applying for jobs and getting through selection processes. Our online mentoring programmes increase social capital (knowing what networks to tap into) and human capital (having the right knowledge and skills) and we run virtual work experience programmes too.

Our mentees have access to our Bright Knowledge resource and mentors are able to share information, advice and guidance about sector-based networks and forums that could benefit them.

4. Worry about work available

Travel and location are becoming bigger barriers for young people finding and keeping work. Only 56% of young people think they are paid fairly for the work they do. More needs to be done to support employers to be conscious about how they recruit and retain young people.

We work with employers to match employee mentors with mentees, contributing to employers’ diversity and inclusion goals as well as working on their employee pipeline and addressing skills gaps.

If you work for a charity that supports young people with their mental health or disabilities, a corporate organisation looking to help young people as part of your CSR activities or a university looking at widening participation, we’d love to work with you.

Find out more about how we could work together.   

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