New mental health toolkit for teenage boys launched

The Salvation Army and Youthscape have worked with celebrities to create an innovative toolkit designed to help 13-16 year old boys develop a healthy approach to their emotional wellbeing.

Upbeat is a six-session course featuring videos of artists talking openly about their struggles with mental health and discussing music that has helped them with their own wellbeing. Artists featured include rapper Guvna B, ex-Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya and singer-songwriter Steph Macleod.

As well as films, Upbeat also uses Spotify playlists, facilitated group discussions, wellbeing exercises and creative activities.

The Salvation Army launched Upbeat on Saturday (16 November) at Youthscape’s National Youth Ministry Weekend.

Matt Perkins from The Salvation Army’s national youth department said:

“The Salvation Army works with thousands of teenage boys across the UK and Republic of Ireland through church activities, scouts, school outreach and community services for families in need.  We know many of them are struggling with their mental health and this course is designed to ensure youth workers have the skills to support them.

“Since the mid-1990s, three-quarters of UK suicides have been among men* and the Department of Health has warned that half of mental health problems in adult life start before the age of 14 and seventy-five per cent before the age of 18.** As a church and charity is it vital that we play our part in helping to address this.”  

The course is designed to be adapted for use in a variety of settings and with boys of all faiths and none. Groups exploring the Christian faith can make use of the optional spiritual reflections.

Course participants are encouraged to listen to each artist’s playlist and create their own group playlist. The Upbeat playlists include tracks from popular performers such as by Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber.

Matt added:

“We want to best prepare teenage boys for life and give them steps they can take to help protect their mental health.

“We cannot sit back and wait until boys become adults to tackle mental health issues – it’s vital we connect with boys now before struggles become too overwhelming or radically reduce their life opportunities.

“Youth workers have a unique chance to step in and support teenagers. Upbeat will equip them to open up conversations about emotional wellbeing and mental health at a crucial point.

“We pray this resourcewill be used to develop supportive communities in which all young people can take part in honest conversations, recognise it’s OK to struggle with mental health and know there is help available.”

Upbeat is available to buy from the Youthscape website.

For more information, visit https://salvationarmy.org.uk/upbeat.

*Office for National Statistics, (2019). Suicides in the UK: 2018 registrations [online]. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/suicidesintheunitedkingdom/2018registrations [accessed 06/11/2019].

**Department of Health, (2015). Future in mind: Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, p9 [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-mental-health-services-for-young-people [accessed 06/11/2019].

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