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Health / Young people’s mental health and wellbeing at heart of new Mind Your Head service

Team leader Aimee Barclay (second from right) with wellness practitioners (left to right) Gemma Harries, Elle Medici and Jade Wilson. Photo: Mind Your Head

IT IS only around six weeks old, but a new service offering support to young people in Shetland struggling with their own mental health and wellbeing is already proving busy.

Local mental health charity Mind Your Head’s Well Youth initiative offers one to one support through an assigned wellness practitioner.

It also provides help to young people who are living with or supporting someone struggling with their own mental health and wellbeing.

Team leader Aimee Barclay said the service, which is open for people aged 10 to 25, has had a “very good uptake so far”.

It is separate to a council-run school counselling service which launched in 2020.

“We are only six weeks into delivering the service and still have some work to do around promoting the service to young people to ensure they know how and where to access support when they need it, so I think things will only get busier over time,” Barclay added.

“That’s a positive for us though, if we are busy it means we are getting it right and meeting their needs.”

Barclay works alongside three wellness practitioners in the Well Youth team.

The service initially came about following the success of Mind Your Head’s adult service.

The charity was regularly asked if it provided support for young people similar to what it offered adults through its wellness programme.

“I was then asked to carry out some research to identify any need locally for low level mental health and wellbeing provision for children and young people and recommend an appropriate response,” Barclay said.

“The report obviously identified a need and what the potential service should look like.

“Crucially we involved young people in the design process from this initial stage to ensure the service met their needs and wasn’t just what we thought they needed.

“We then begun the process of seeking funding for the service and have been very grateful to receive joint funding from the Shetland Islands Council and NHS Shetland.

“We further developed the service taking account of the emotional wellbeing and resilience project findings which came directly from young people in Shetland.”

Barclay said the team has seen a range of presenting issues among young people so far, but anxiety has tended to be the most common.

“We are keen for young people to know that we are here to support them with any mental health and wellbeing needs they might have – if they are unsure whether the service is suitable for them or not feel free to get in touch and we can have a chat about what we could offer.”

A young person accessing the service will be assigned a wellness practitioner who will look at ways of improving their wellbeing.

Although the help offered will be different for everyone, support might include things like a safe listening ear, coping mechanisms and practising self-care.

Advice, sign-posting and help to access services within your community may also be on the agenda.

Young people can contact Mind Your Head directly to access support, or they can be referred by a parent, guardian or member of staff who is supporting them with their permission.

If anyone would like to contact Mind Your Head for support they can phone 01595 745035.

Alternatively people can get in touch through 07922603830 through the phone, text or WhatsApp.

People can also send a message through the ‘contact us’ section on the Mind Your Head website.

In addition the charity will also be running a monthly walk-in service where young people can access a 30 minute appointment with a wellness practitioner to discuss anything they are struggling with.