Peer Mentoring: Empowering Youth to Support Each Other
According to the Mental Health Foundation, an estimated 20% of adolescents struggle with their mental health each year. Not only that, but research also suggests that around half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14.
It’s widely accepted that preventative measures, such as providing all students access to structured mental health education and basic support, can help young people build the necessary resilience skills to cope with common mental health challenges.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at one type of preventative measure known as peer mentoring. We’ll cover what it is, how it helps, and how young people can receive a Level 2 Award in Peer Mentoring through our own Peer Mentoring Programme created in partnership with Minds Ahead.
What is Peer Mentoring?
In a school context, peer mentoring is a support programme where students can receive advice from another student – known as a “peer mentor”. The peer mentor is typically of a similar age and background to the mentee, and their purpose is to listen, chat, and offer advice on topics related to school, social life, and mental health/wellbeing. Peer mentors can also signpost mentees to further support that is outside of the scope for peer mentoring.
How Does Peer Mentoring Support School Communities?
Peer mentoring programmes support school communities in a number of ways.
Firstly, the student population benefits from knowing that they have peers available to speak to when they need it. Many young people feel intimidated or embarrassed to speak to adults about their challenges, and having peer mentors available provides students with a more approachable alternative.
The peer mentors themselves also benefit from having the opportunity to develop their own interpersonal skills, leadership skills, confidence, and empathy. They can then take these skills forward with them to their next chapter in life.
Finally, the school community as a whole benefits from having more resilient, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent students. This enables students to bring the very best version of themselves to school; ready and focused on learning.
Introducing The Lily-Jo Project’s Peer Mentoring Programme
The Lily-Jo Project’s Peer Mentoring Programme is ran in partnership with Minds Ahead. It is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health, and participating students have the opportunity to earn a Level 2 Award in Peer Mentoring.
The programme is ideally suited for for students ages 14-18. By taking part in the programme, students will be able to:
- Appreciate that mental health and wellbeing fluctuates
- Know how to protect good mental health for themselves and their peers
- Recognise the signs and symptoms of poor or declining mental health in themselves and their peers
- Support their own mental health in challenging, stressful or changing situations
- Apply a range of listening, questioning and other mentoring skills
The programme can be delivered by a member of staff at your school or college after participation in a ‘train the trainer’ style induction. All participating schools will receive necessary training materials, delivery notes, ideas, suggestions and an assessment booklet to give to students. Assessment booklets can then be completed and submitted to Minds Ahead for marking.
In terms of pricing, here is an outline of the costs of the programme:
- One-off approval and induction fee of £575 per setting for training and materials (up to 3 trainers)
- Annual fee from year 2 onwards £390 for updated materials and QA
- Assessment and qualification: £95/student
The programme includes seven lessons, all fully resourced with clear teacher instructions. All video lessons are hosted by qualified counsellor and pop artist, Lily-Jo.
Feedback from students and teachers
Since launching the programme in January of 2023, we have received lots of positive feedback! Here are just a few testimonials from students and teachers.
“I wasn’t aware of how much I could do to support others. Really looking forward to being a peer mentor.” – Year 12 Student
“These sessions have given me the opportunity to refine my communications skills and have introduced us to coping strategies and helpful devices for supporting others and ourselves. All of which I have consequently been more mindful of in my own experiences as well being able to suggest to others. The sessions were a lovely way to evaluate things and apply techniques in an accessible way to our everyday experiences.” – Student
“This course was amazing and helped me understand mental health from many of different aspects. It’s learned me how to prioritise not just mine but others’ mental health. This is only the beginning of becoming the best version of myself!” – Student
“Our pupils really are gaining so much from the Peer Mentoring Course, as am I. The materials are so powerful and the way the pupils can actually develop their listening, mentoring and coaching skills as well as their self-reflection and positive thinking skills. I know that they are already putting it into practice in their own lives and in their mentoring. It will have a huge impact on everyone involved and all the communities they are part of. We are so excited to see how this develops in our school.” – Dom Jones, Teacher, Dame Alice Owen’s School
Next steps for schools
To take the first step and sign up your students to this opportunity, please send an email to email@example.com.
You can also purchase the course online here.
If you found this article helpful, please check out the following resources on children and young people’s mental health.
- Information and guides on the whole-school approach to mental health from Young Minds.
- Adolescent mental health fact sheet from the World Health Organization.
- Statistics on children and young people mental health from the Mental Health Foundation.
Talking to Children About Mental Health
If you’d like to learn more about how to support the next generation of young people, we’d love to invite you to check out Lily-Jo’s debut book Talking to Children About Mental Health.
This book is a practical guide designed to help adults understand the unique mental health challenges facing children, teenagers, and students today.
Some of the key themes covered include:
- Anxiety and cancel culture
- Self-esteem and self-harm in the digital world
- Climate anxiety and global grief
- Post-pandemic stress disorder
- And more!
It’s suitable for parents, grandparents, teachers, youth workers and anyone in a position of care or interested in the future of mental health and supporting the next generation.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, and Barns & Noble.