Youthink – the concept to launch


How did it all begin?

What makes us really proud is just how much this project is ‘by young people for young people’. Right from the start the idea for a peer mentor project that would promote positive mental health came from young people. First suggested during a unique planning event that gave young people a chance to have their say on improving the service they received, the idea instantly stood out as something that could make a real difference.

To find out more about the initial planning day why not download the summary report that got things started. See page 11.

Click the icon to download the PDF file.

With support from workers at Wirral CAMHS, funding was sourced to run an initial trail. Beginning in September 2013, the trial was undertaken over the academic year, in five Wirral secondary schools. Two students from lower 6th form were nominated from each school; and this team of ten became what would become ‘Youthink’.

Our preparation

As members of the Youthink team, one of our first challenges was to understand the responsibilities of our new role as peer mentors and undertake our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, delivered by Wirral CAMHS’ primary mental health workers and assistant psychologists.

Following this induction phase, the real work began! Our volunteer group, guided and supported by the CAMHS workers, started to develop a framework for what our role might be within school and what might be the best approaches and techniques.

The plan we decided on was to target year 9, as we thought this probably the most challenging and pressured year for many young people, when there’s lots of changes going on.

We thought that our main focus should be to work with ‘class-size groups’ so that we could get our message to as many pupils as possible; it was also a quick way to let the whole year group know who we are, what we are about and how they can get hold of us if they wanted to talk to us one-to-one about their experiences.

Following our initial training, CAMHS arranged for us to meet regularly as a team, and together we designed lesson plans aimed at raising awareness, reducing stigma and building resilience amongst young pupils.

Getting started

We delivered our planned lessons to year 9 PSHE classes during the autumn and spring term, and we saw pupils starting to take up the invitation of one-to-one support during the spring term.

Since then, our team of volunteers has continued to meet as a group, so that we can share our thoughts and ideas about what works well, the challenges, and how we can continue to develop our roles in each of our schools.

So, what were our successes?

During the trial period, we:

  • noticed a greater awareness developing amongst young people in terms of the language they use and the judgements they make about mental health
  • saw students come forward to ask for help about the things that concerned them
  • as older young people in our school, we felt an understanding and respect for the experiences of our younger peers; and saw the potential to develop even stronger support ‘ties’
  • made a difference!

These are just a small number of the developments we noticed during our involvement in the trial; to find out more about our thoughts about Youthink and the difference we felt it made in our schools, why not check out our ‘A different outlook’ report.


How are we taking things forward?

Well the trial was just the beginning, our five schools have chosen to continue to support our role as peer mentors. So valued has been our role in improving awareness and understanding amongst younger students and offering guidance and support where needed, that some of the schools have actually decided to expand their team of mentors.

We’re so pleased that the first year was such a success, and all thanks to the young people that came up with the original idea, the Wirral CAMH Service for supporting us, and also our schools for believing in us and our potential to make this project the success it has become.

But, it doesn’t need to end there. Though the trial period has now ended, we are keen to hear from other schools in the area that would be interested in developing the project for their own pupils. So whether you are a teacher or a young person why not get in touch with Wirral CAMHS and find out more right now.

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