Text: Henriette Lilleaker Olsen
Washington Mind is an independent NGO based in Sunderland in the North East England. It is affiliated to national Mind, the largest mental health charity in England with a network of around 130 local Minds.
Their mission is to work in partnerships with the community to promote recovery and improve mental health and wellbeing for all.
Highest rate of suicide
According to a report from the Office of National Statistics, North East England has the highest rate of suicide in the country. The report also suggests that mental health issues in the North East are more prevalent and persistent compared to other areas nationally.
Washington Mind promotes wellbeing, recovery, independence, dignity and respect supporting an individual’s choice to engage with their community in a way that meets their individual needs and preferences.
Their work aims to break down barriers reducing discrimination surrounding mental health issues and encourage more people to be actively involved in seeking support.
Due to a flexible and creative approach to service delivery they actively engage with the harder to reach groups who often feel that statutory services do not meet their needs.
Targeting young people
Washington Mind’s Young People’s Project is targeting young people aged between 11-25 years and has 6 counsellors in post.
With a commitment to the participatory approach, these counsellors routinely work in partnership with young people across the City of Sunderland.
Young People’s Project provide support for young people with a variety of presenting issues including bereavement, family breakdown bullying, young carers, and young people who have witnessed domestic abuse. Services include counselling, therapeutic group work, creative activities, volunteering opportunities and training.
The service continues to adapt, and is influenced primarily by the opinions and needs of young people.
Kavli Trust is supporting Young People’s Project with 1.5 M NOK over a 3 year period from 2019-2021.
The aim of the granted support is to fund the development of an evidence-based concept to prevent loneliness among children and young people. Research identifies increasing levels of loneliness especially amongst young people, with 1 in 3 young people reporting loneliness, as a result of this.
The funding will finance a full time project manager, four young interns and two additional volunteers.
The goal of the project, called “Young People’s loneliness Project”, is to chart, understand and prevent loneliness, isolation and social exclusion through various forms of individual approach, group therapy, creative art, literature and music.
Potential methods and tools will be identified, tested and evaluated.
FACTS – The goals of the project
The goals of the project will be to further understand the experience of youth loneliness and to explore ways to prevent it occurrence, and to reduce its negative impact on mental health and well-being.
- To develop youth led research to further understand the phenomenon
- To develop the use of arts-based and creative methods to explore the lived experience of loneliness and isolation
- To further understand the role of literature, music and art with regards to the understanding of loneliness from the perspective of young people, and to explore how these media can provide a sense of comfort, and promote positive connections to others experiencing loneliness.
- To normalise, and reduce the stigma associate with the experience of loneliness, locating it very much within the context of the human condition.
- To develop a range of tools to help young people to navigate problematic loneliness with peer support from service users and youth interns
- To offer person-centred 1-2-1 counselling for young people whose experience of loneliness is having a significant negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
- To amplify the voice of youth loneliness and widely disseminate the findings to bring about systemic change at the local, regional and national level in both statutory and non-statutory services.