YOUNG people who get involved with the National Citizen Service will benefit from a new mental health awareness scheme.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday that NCS is setting up a new course to raise awareness of the mental health challenges that impact young people.
Mental health issues disproportionately affect young people, with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 18.
The course will be developed with mental health experts and NCS graduates and be delivered as part of the organisation’s programme to prepare young people for the challenges of adult life and work.
In 2018 the organisation will pilot a series of mental health initiatives, which will be delivered to all young people taking part in NCS in future years.
The new measures will aim to support young people in thinking about mental health issues and having the confidence to know that support is available.
Yesterday, Theresa May met young people who are benefitting from the NCS programme – as well as graduates of the scheme and staff.
Marley Callaway from Portsmouth was one of those who met with the prime minister.
Marley said: ‘With my regional youth board, we hosted an event that helped young people, like myself, explore mental health issues and showed how we can get help with these issues.
‘Young people are very vulnerable to having problems with their mental health, and it can be very embarrassing to ask for help. NCS projects like this helps to break the taboo of talking about these issues.’
Michael Lynas, chief executive of NCS, said: ‘NCS brings young people from all backgrounds together for a shared experience that changes their lives for good.
‘By experiencing the great outdoors, building new friendships and serving their community these young people not only build important skills for life and work, they also improve their health and wellbeing.
‘As our country’s flagship programme for 16-year-olds, we know just how important the issue of mental health is to this age group and we hope this initiative will help the next generation to live healthier and happier lives.’
Mrs May said: ‘Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that’s why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me.
‘It is not only the pressures of school and exams, though that is in the front of our minds at the moment, but also self-esteem issues, struggles with home life or friendships, and getting into university or finding a job that can all affect mental wellbeing.
‘This excellent enhancement to the NCS programme will build on the work we are already doing in schools and ensure young people get the knowledge and help they need.’
The new package of measures delivered by NCS will include a dedicated mental health awareness course, new mental health training and a new network of NCS graduates to champion mental health awareness.
For more information about NCS go to ncsyes.co.uk.