One in five adults in Britain have experienced symptoms of depression during the pandemic, with young people (particularly LGBTQ+) hit the hardest.
In an average classroom, ten children will have witnessed their parents separate, eight will have experienced severe physical violence, sexual abuse or neglect, one will have experienced the death of a parent and seven will have been bullied.
Research shows that 75% of all serious mental health issues manifest by the age 18, which is why early intervention is vital. Yet worryingly, an increase in both demand and need has combined with diminishing NHS funding. Of the parents whose children are unwell and who seek help, only 25% receive NHS support. For young people with wellbeing challenges, this is leading to long waiting times. About 20% of young people with mental ill-health wait more than six months to receive care from a specialist.
According to the Chief Medical Officer, as many as 25% of all adolescent mental health problems are preventable through early intervention and support. In response, the NHS report Future in Mind advocates the need for a more accessible, locally organised and responsive system that prioritises prevention, early intervention and resilience and a strengthening of relationships between family and friends.
How The Wild Mind Project Can Help
The Wild Mind Project has had extensive experience of working with young people who are vulnerable to, or experiencing mental ill-health. Our programmes get young people out into nature, mindfully observing the natural world or doing activities such as conservation work or gardening. The young people also engage in a range of therapeutic nature focussed art activities.
Evidence suggests that spending time in natural environments can improve mental health and wellbeing. Nature reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex which can alleviate symptoms of depression. It also facilitates social networking and promotes social inclusion in children and adolescents. This approach is often referred to as green care or nature-based intervention.
Research also suggests that community-based arts activities can help stabilise young people’s mental health. Creative activity enhances positive mood which increases levels of mental flexibility and creative thinking, and facilitates cognitive processing which primes for cognitive change.
Quotes from young people who have attended out programmes:
“The concept is amazing, the activities are really enriching and really well thought out. The mixture of learning, creating and then sharing was really stimulating to engage my anxious mind”
“What benefited me the most was the practical activity of producing things, that I could then continue to do out of the sessions. Learning new things about nature helped me gain confidence”
“The programme gave me a structure every weekend, I had something really wholesome and lovely to look forward to every week. It helped me refocus on a task, activity or learning process and had a really positive impact on my wellbeing”
“I will miss you all. I’ve had the best time, it’s been the highlight of my week. Thank you so much”
“I think this is the best activity programme that could be prescribed to young people with mental health issues and I really feel happy with what’s come out of it, and I’ve made a supportive group of friends – I would encourage anyone to do it and if I could I would love to do it every week”
“Programme has DEFINITELY helped me. Its taught me so much about nature, myself and creative processes”
We create a safe and supportive space that encourages the group’s active engagement with the art materials and nature to facilitate both verbal and non-verbal modes of communication.
The Wild Mind Project runs programmes that meet for 2 hours weekly for 4 or 5 weeks. These programmes are sometimes specifically targeted at particularly vulnerable groups, such as the young LGBTQ+ community. We operate in South West London and Brighton.
We encourage all of our participants to engage in progression activities. Our nature activities often inspire young people to take an active role in local environmental projects, or we encourage them to get involved in other community projects, so they have the chance to ‘give-back’ to society. Giving to others can help protect mental health and provides a sense of purpose. A paper published in the British Medical Journal indicates that referral to a suitable voluntary sector project results in additional patient benefits, compared with general practitioner care alone.
We already take referrals from organisations like CAMHS, Achieving For Children and South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. If you would like to refer a young person to one of our programmes, please complete our Referral Form. Thank you.
All of our staff who work with children and adults have received safeguarding training and are fully aware of their particular responsibilities and expectations, in line with our Child Safeguarding and Adult Safeguarding policies. All staff working with children and vulnerable adults are Enhanced DBS checked. Please see Safeguarding for full details.
Parents and Carers
The Wild Mind Project takes a systemic approach to wellbeing. We know what an important role parents and carers play in supporting a child with mental ill-health.
However, looking after a family member with a mental health problem can have a significant impact on the carers’ own mental health. A Carers UK’s survey (2015) revealed that 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression as a result of their caring role.
According to the Association for Young People’s Health, the parents of adolescents are the most unsupported of all groups of parents, and those who have teenagers with mental health problems are particularly isolated. Yet parents can be a big part of the solution as far as successful outcomes for young people are concerned.
The Wild Mind Project are running workshops for both a parent/carer and their young person struggling with mental ill-health, to attend together. We use a combination of attachment-based art therapy to develop trust and communication, and walks/activities in nature to reduce stress and create positive memories, to help both parent/carer and their young person to re-focus on the positives in their lives.
“This is the first time in years that I have been offered support in terms of my needs in relation to my daughter’s mental health”
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”. Plutarch