19 October 2017

National Award for Young Peer Mentors

A group of young people representing three Liverpool schools have won an award in recognition of their commitment to supporting fellow students and reducing the stigma of talking about mental health.

Organised by the national mental health charity, Mind, Peerfest is an annual event celebrating the importance, power and diversity of peer support.

Developed by Merseyside Youth Association, a member of the Liverpool Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Partnership, the Peer Mentoring Offer, named by the young people as ‘The TOTEM Course – Talking Out Loud To Embrace Mental Health’, gives young people the knowledge and tools to be a positive role model to fellow young people, both in school and the wider community. The skills they learn also enable them to recognise if further support is required, and to refer the young person to a professional if necessary.


Since the scheme launched in 2015, ten schools have signed up to take part, with over 200 mentors completing their training. In excess of 2000 conversations have taken place around mental health in the last six months alone, with 105 students going on to be referred for further support via a peer mentor.

Earlier this month, seven peer mentors from Broad Green International School, St Hildas CE High School and King David High School attended The ‘PeerFest’ Awards having been shortlisted in the ‘Peer Support in a workplace or organisation’ category out of 77 entries across the country.


Leigh Horner, mental health promotion worker at Merseyside Youth Association said: “To win this award is a testament to the commitment these young people have shown in becoming positive role models and drawing on their own experiences to offer valued support. The benefits of peer support are huge; because it’s built on shared personal experience and empathy, the approach focuses on an individual’s strengths not weaknesses, and works towards the individual’s wellbeing and recovery.”


The success of the programme has been evident, Leigh added: “We’ve seen assemblies being delivered by the mentors to raise awareness of mental health and combat stigma, lunchtime clubs set up for young people to attend, chill-out and gain the support of a peer mentor, wellbeing displays have been set up around schools, drop-ins have been arranged, and 1-1 support has been implemented in several schools.


“One of the mentors has been working with a young person during break time, playing football whilst having those all-important conversations about what is going on, enabling the young person to fulfil his full potential and feel fully supported.”


Merseyside Youth Association plan to roll this programme out to a further four groups over the next six months, as well as supporting the existing mentors to continue to campaign in their schools and communities whilst supporting their peers.


If you know of a school that might be interested, please contact Leigh Horner hornerl@mya.org.uk Tel: 0151 702 0738.