Youth Activism and Intentional Peer Support with Hearts and Minds

NSUN recently funded five places on an Intentional Peer Support (IPS) Training programme for the Peer Youth Mental Health organisation Hearts and Minds.

To find out more about Hearts and Minds, click here or follow on Twitter.

The IPS qualification was done through a half day every week for ten weeks. If you are a young person interested in mental health activism and the expertise of lived experience, sign up for the next round of training here.

Beth Ingram, Founder and Director, tells us a little bit about the group and the role of IPS training:

“Hearts & Minds is a UK-wide peer and youth led community for young people, aged 14-25, experiencing distress and mental health difficulties. Our aim to give every young person someone that gets it – no thresholds, criteria, labelling or analysing – just support and a space for people to come together and learn together.

Lots of young people find themselves doing loads of activism, participation, coproduction, or volunteering around mental health but leave with nothing to show for the skills and expertise they’ve gained – we wanted to give young people something to show for this lived expertise: Intentional Peer Support (IPS) qualifications are respected internationally.

Whilst there’s a massive alternative approaches/non-medical model community in the adult mental health world, youth mental health is getting increasingly clinical with one version of mental health/illness being taught from primary schools. Young people are taught how to be activists and put on programmes by large charities but that means we’re exposed only to certain dialogues, and learn to see our experiences in the way that is convenient for systems.

Doing this IPS training 3 years ago, and meeting a community of people who are still some of my closest friends, exposed me to alternative ways of viewing mental health that didn’t view me as sick or in need of fixing. This has massively informed my work practice and the way I make meaning of my own experiences. Our vision is to create spaces where young people can can explore these topics and come to their own conclusions – alongside gaining a qualification. The training is also a doorway to the amazing world that is the peer/lived experience/survivor movement.

Young people may be financially vulnerable or out of work, and the expectation that people can pay for things themselves or give up time for free exacerbates a lack of diversity in the peer workforce. NSUN amazingly funded 5 scholarship places for participants so they could complete the training for free. Mind also part funded so we could offer it at a reduced price for all the participants.”

Video by Flexible Films.