National Citizen Service (NCS) in Lincolnshire is championing Mental Health Awareness Week (May 14 -20) to help raise awareness of mental health ahead of its programme this summer after national research by the youth empowerment programme revealed 37% of teens have experienced mental health problems.
NCS is dedicated to supporting 15-17-year-olds across the county build confidence, develop important life skills and have fun during their summer break.
Tara Lawson, safeguarding manager at The EBP – the regional NCS EM1 provider, said: “Mental health disproportionately affects teens as they struggle with a range of pressures from school stress to bullying or body image issues.”
The Mental Health Foundation, the organisation behind the national week, is focusing on stress for 2018.
It believes that by talking about stress - one of the key factors in exacerbating mental health problems - this can go a long way in tackling anxiety, depression and even self-harm and suicide.
Tara added: “At its core, NCS is a youth empowerment programme and can offer a renewed sense of control and confidence after the stressful period of exams, as well as something positive to look towards following the exam period.
“We encourage teens to try new experiences, make friends with people they have never met and hone skills they didn’t even know they had.
“We recently conducted a local survey with 175 Lincolnshire NCS graduates and nearly half of respondents said they had suffered with mental health issues, while a staggering 72% said that they had known someone close to them, such as a friend or family member, experience a mental health issue.”
NCS is a unique four-week summer programme, focused around fun and discovery with teens spending time away from home, learning new life skills and also volunteering at least 30 hours of their time to a community project or charity of their choice.
Nayya Patel, 17, who took part in NCS EM1 last year, said: “I have a history of mental health problems and was often teased about it at a younger age.
“Nowadays people are becoming more aware and taking things seriously however, the message needs to reach more people.”
Speaking about her experience on the NCS programme, she said: “The connections that I made with people over four weeks and the amount that we were able to complete together was amazing and to think that we did it for the citizens of the world felt even better.
“I am able to do more than I thought I was capable of and I overcame so many hurdles!”
The government-backed scheme costs no more than £50, which covers the entire experience from food and accommodation to activities and travel, with bursaries available on a case by case basis.
The Lincolnshire NCS summer programme will start on June 25, 2018 – with more dates available throughout the summer holidays.
For further information and to sign up to the summer NCSEM1 programme click here or call 01522 574101.