Mental Health & Youth Clubs

1 February 2011 — Leave a comment

From Children & Young People Now: Report underlines youth clubs’ role in combating mental health problems in young people.

Youth clubs can help reduce young people’s chances of developing mental problems, according to an interim report published by Clubs for Young People and Young Devon.

The report Somewhere to Talk — Someone to Listen looks at research evidence from across the children, youth and mental health sectors.

Keith Coulston, author of the report, argues that research shows that youth clubs help to develop young people’s resilience, and reduce the risk of vulnerable young people experiencing “low level” mental health problems from developing a more severe mental health problem.

Flicking through the report, I tend to agree with its findings. My only criticism is that it seems to prove its conclusion by gathering evidence about the emotional needs of young people and then relating it to what is understood about the role of youth clubs rather than hard evidence.

Members of the Working Group and Steering Group have contributed their knowledge and expertise to the process of designing and analysing questionnaires and developing briefing papers and this Interim Report. Specialist support provided by the Mental Health Foundation has enabled the production of two papers (a) The emotional needs of young people and (b) the role of youth clubs which have been incorporated into this report.

Obviously different youth clubs are run in different ways and so will provide very different experiences for young people attending. Personally I’d like to see some more solid research on what clubs do provide young people, and then analysed against the medical evidence of mental health needs. I could be entirely wrong, but the methodology here feels flawed even if the conclusion is right.

Judge for yourself by downloading the full report here.


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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