Aye Mind: a digital approach to youth mental health
Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Aye Mind is on a mission to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people – by making better use of the internet, social media and mobile technologies. We worked with young people aged 13 to 21 and other partners; Snook, Young Scot, and the Mental Health Foundation to create and share a wide range of resources through the Aye Mind site.
Aye Mind was originally known as Project 99 in its first phase and after being awarded European funding a second phase took place with a stronger emphasis on co-production with young people taking a strong lead in the development of the content of the site. As the lead agency NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde staff involved in the project felt that young people would be key to the success of the project. Partners involved had strong youth work links and this was also one of the strengths of the project.
Heather Sloan, Health Improvement Lead at NHSGGC said ‘We wanted young people to be at the heart of the project. Young people are the experts in their own lives and we were keen that they were equal partners and not just a ‘tick box exercise’ – We ran a series of coproduction workshops with a wide range of young people from across the Glasgow and Clyde area. The ‘buzz’ in these sessions was fantastic and the young people shared their stories and experiences of mental health through gif making sessions. The insights and learning from the sessions were invaluable – In fact the young people went beyond what was planned and came up with their own manifesto – that was an added bonus!’
The Aye Mind Gif Making sessions demonstrated fun simple ways to engage young people in creating mental wellbeing messages and images that they can share with their peers. Whilst these sessions were based around wellbeing messages, they could also be used for any discussion topic.
In preparation for these sessions we ensured that all staff was trained in Young Peoples Scottish Mental Health First Aid to enable them to support any young person who had any issues when talking about their mental health.
The Young People we worked with said that they needed those who support them in education and youth work settings to be aware of the lives they led online. Indeed young people told us that they didn’t see the distinction between online and offline activity; rather they were seamless. To address this we developed a digital toolkit for all who work with young people too, to boost their ability to promote youth wellbeing and to enable youth workers, policy makers, planners and service providers to be more prepared to engage with young people in supporting their mental health and in drawing on digital communication technology.
Throughout the process a wide ranging set of learning, recommendations and prototype ideas have been developed. Young people have been at the Centre of this innovative project which includes:
- A workers’ toolkit http://ayemind.com/toolkit/
- Youth-facing material (including animated gif work generated by young people) http://ayemind.com/latest-aye-mind-gifs/ and http://ayemind.com/support-squared-gifs/ (and see blog section for lots of “making of” methodology material)
- A comprehensive digital assets database (curating over 60 resources) http://ayemind.com/resource-map/
- A dedicated Aye Mind youth mental wellbeing platform hosted by Young Scot http://young.scot/aye-mind/
To find out more please visit the site to explore how social media and digital approaches can support positive mental wellbeing http://ayemind.com/
To access this article which was published in the The Link magazine (Autumn 2017), page 22, please follow the link below: