mhfThe Mental Health Foundation has launched its delivery of the Healthy Conversations peer-led dimension to address the "lack of adequate mental health awareness support for 16-25 year olds".

One in 10 children and young people have a mental health problem at any one time with those living in supported accommodation being even more at risk of developing mental health issues.

To reduce this risk, the Foundation has partnered with the Foyer Federation to train up to 30 young people as health ambassadors to run Healthy Conversations, which explore a healthier sense of wellbeing by putting young peoples’ voices at the heart of conversations about health.

By taking part in the programme young people will gain the understanding and resilience to take responsibility for preventative mental health approaches, physical activity choices and healthier eating habits, as well as influence their local health landscape.

Empower those that need it most
Elise Leclerc from the Foundation said: "Young people are best placed to know what works for them in terms of managing their mental health and wellbeing, but while they are often told how to stay physically healthy, they are rarely taught techniques to also stay emotionally healthy.

"Gaining an understanding of their mental health is vital if young people are to grow into resilient adults. Therefore it is vital these peer-led conversations are delivered, to empower those that might need it most."

Using its expertise and learning around youth involvement from its Right Here project, a partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Foundation aims to deliver:

• Peer-facilitation training for health ambassadors around ‘Looking after your mental health and wellbeing,’ including confidentiality and boundaries, mental health awareness, stress management, food and mood
• 48 peer-led Healthy Conversations across England
• General mental health, youth involvement and local influencing expertise to the Foyer Federation and their affiliated Foyers nationally
• Peer-led sessions delivered by Right Here Young Champions in partnership with Healthy Conversations Foyers residents.

Chloe Morton, Healthy Conversations programme manager, added: "Through the delivery of these peer-led conversation groups, young people begin to experience new conversations about mental health; as something we all have and not just a list of problems."

The project outcomes will inform a wider evaluation report following completion in May 2015.