Armed Forces Young People Making Progress in Developing Mental Health and Wellbeing Service for Peers

Funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust has enabled the Royal Caledonian Education Trust to Launch its Your Mind Matters Project, which will develop a new mental health and wellbeing service for young people from serving personnel, reservist and veteran families in Scotland.

The Your Mind Matters Project launched in response to a consultation with over six-hundred young people from Armed Forces families across Scotland, where over eighty percent of respondents told the charity that they faced considerable challenges to mental health and wellbeing.

Many of the challenges cited by respondents of the consultation related directly to unique experiences of life within an Armed Forces family, which included deployment of loved ones, regular relocations and the subsequent disruption of education and friendships.

A core working group of Armed Forces young people was established, who have explored the theoretical principles of co-production and applied what they have learned to develop a series of interactive exercises to successfully develop a vision statement for the project.

The core working group suggested regular social check-in events should be added to the project’s existing activities to help build a safe team space and provide an opportunity to relax, enjoy food and share ideas about the project within an informal setting.

The first virtual social check-in event was successfully held in February, which included a quiz, scavenger hunt and bingo. Food vouchers were also provided which served to further reinforce the informal setting and bring in a greater number of attendees.

The project has progressed to making preparations for its Discovery Phase and the core working group is calling on more young people (12-24 years) to join them and contribute their unique experiences, creativity and voice towards future developments.

In anticipation for the Discovery phase, some of the early thoughts from the core working group have focused on understanding and improving mental health, sharing experiences and being able to effectively help others in need of support.

This could potentially include the development of an automated 24/7 digital advisory service, assistance in understanding military terminology and a peer mentor system, which will allow Armed Forces young people of the same age to buddy up within the same location.

Six of the Core Working Group have also taken up the opportunity to achieve a Participatory Democracy Certificate through the Your Mind Matters Project, which will provide an SCQF Level 5 accreditation (two credits) in communication, decision-making and participation.

Heather is a member of the core working group for Your Mind Matters, who describes the reasons for getting involved as well as reflects on the benefits of coming forward to make a contribution to the development of a mental health and wellbeing service for Armed Forces young people.

“Your Mind Matters is important to me because it focuses on mental and emotional health. I have experienced positive and negative aspects with regard to my own mental health and have supported others whom I care about too. Therefore, I am keen to bring my experiences to the project, which I hope will support more Armed Forces young people. Already this experience has helped me to push myself outside my comfort zone and talk to other people, something which has helped me feel better understood as I am with other people who have been through similar experience. The experience has allowed me to connect with people I would not have necessarily met.

“I am really enjoying the mix of informal and formal meetings as it feels like we are getting through things we need to complete as well as get to know each other while doing things. I feel a range of emotions in terms of helping to develop the digital platform. I am excited there is going to be a platform for Armed Forces young people and hopeful that it will help them. I also feel very determined to get it right so that it is accessible to all.”

If you are or know a young person from a serving personnel, reservist or veteran family in Scotland, who could benefit from joining our Your Mind Matters Project, please get in touch!

wellbeing@rcet.org.uk