RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity is announcing the development of a brand new service supporting Armed Forces young people across Scotland with their mental health – the first of its kind in Scotland.
The charity was awarded £303,000 over two years from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to develop and deliver the new initiative entitled Your Mind Matters with Scotland’s Mental Health Charity SAMH.
The idea for the initiative came from consultations with over 600 young people from Armed Forces families across Scotland. Through these discussions over 83% of young people told the charity that their wellbeing was negatively affected by the challenges that they were facing, many of which were unique to service life. Key challenges included the stress and anxiety over a deployment of a loved one to the constant moving and upheaval to friendships and education caused by new postings. The charity also heard from children of veterans who were often dealing with parental physical or mental ill health which caused other challenges within the home such as increased caring responsibilities, poverty and family conflict.
Young people including Isabelle, a member of RCET’s National Youth Voice Forum – Military Youth Voice Scotland. She told the charity during the development of the project:
“There was a point when I was a bit younger where I really did feel really isolated. Where I lived there wasn’t a lot of people who had been through the same things as me and I did feel quite by myself. If I had the support when I was younger I wouldn’t have gone through all of the difficult phases I had as a child and I wouldn’t be in quite the place I am at the minute. I would have been a lot better.”
In order to combat these issues of social isolation and poor wellbeing for young people from the Armed Forces community the charity plans to recruit young people to help develop the service from September. Young people will work with the charity to create a digital wellbeing tool that can help support any Armed Forces child across Scotland with their mental health and resilience. This tool will be a first in the UK both in terms of its co-design and in its ability to deliver bespoke digital wellbeing support to this community.
It is hoped that this initiative will revolutionise the level of support available to Armed Forces children and young people and provide crucial supporting to children currently falling through the gaps: those who have recently moved to Scotland, children of veterans, Armed Forces young carers and those living in rural areas where direct support may not always be possible.
The charity, in partnership with SAMH, will also trial alongside this a pilot of face-to-face wellbeing support for Armed Forces children living in the West of Scotland when it is safe to do so. Through this pilot the charities’ aim to work together with Armed Forces young people themselves to create a model of best practice for supporting Armed Forces children.
Colin Flinn, Chief Executive of RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity said, “Your Mind Matters will be the first initiative of its kind in Scotland working directly with Armed Forces children and young people to create resources that work for them when it comes to supporting their mental health. We hope it sends a clear message to our young people that we are listening, and we care about your experiences.”
Alex Cumming, SAMH Assistant Director of Delivery & Development said, “Every young person regardless of their circumstances deserves to be supported with their mental health and wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be involved in this important initiative, and we’re looking forward to working alongside RCET and Armed Forces children and young people to deliver wellbeing services and develop a really helpful resource.”
If you know of a child who you think may benefit from this service please encourage them, or a parent or guardian to get in touch with RCET at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0131 322 7350 for more information.