Mental Health is a global matter affecting each and every one of us. So why is it that none of the LiA projects focus on such an important topic? We wish to break down the barriers and make talking about one's mental health and wellbeing, a common conversation for all. With it recently being Mental Health Awareness week, there's never been a better time to start the discussion.
We believe that this project would not only have a positive impact on those receiving the education but allow for Laidlaw Scholars to gain a deeper understanding of how to look after their own mental health.
We discussed how early education about emotional intelligence, self-care techniques and the importance of opening up should be a priority. By impacting the younger generation, they will have a reduced likelihood of developing future mental health conditions by being aware of this from an early age. We discussed regarding which population group we could have the greatest impact on and identified that this was school children and their parents. As we found that the younger generation are more open to new ideas and change, being more likely to create the conversation with their friends and family. Why should we wait till adulthood for the discussion to be started when people could have accessed the help and treatment they needed at an earlier stage?
The problem we wish to address is 'Increasing accessibility to mental health resources for children and their parents/carers within secondary school (around ages 11-18)'.
Why is it important?
It is important to educate children at a younger age on mental health problems and address the generational barrier by including parents within the project. We wish to encourage them to practice introspection and empower them to communicate their needs.
The Perfect LiA
Laidlaw Scholars as project managers in creating educational resources and workshops and delivering them with support from the NGO/Charity selected.
We believe this can be implemented within the UK and any other country worldwide (in agreement with a charity found suitable). Dependent upon the school location, this project could be implemented within June/July time due to the time period of summer holidays (if within the UK). Or the project could be created within the UK alongside the NGO for the first 2 weeks of the LiA period and then implemented within an international country (similar to the make_sense approach of 2 weeks in one's home country (online/in-person), 4 weeks in the country implementing programme).
Week 1: Researching and Training
- Scholar discussion of programme ideas
- Discussion regarding engagement techniques for younger students
- Creating material that is accessible to all (Equality and Diversity -> disabilities, LGBTQ+, cultural aspects)
- Design thinking training/technique adopted by make_sense -> example
- Mental Health Training for the Scholars provided by professionals from the NGOs/Charities
Week 2: Building the Program and Training
- Putting the research into action - testing prototypes, looking to see if these projects have worked in the past and if not, how can we adapt it before implementing within schools.
Week 3-5: Implementing Project
- Interactive Workshops with school and parents
- Even workshops for teachers to enable them to continue this practice within their PSHE lessons (Personal, social, health and economic education) * ideas scholars could think about*
Week 6: Continue Implementation, Close the Project & Evaluate
- Close the project for the scholars, celebration event for their achievements
- Pass on the materials to the NGO to continue this programme through their organisation and for future years of the LiA
- Evaluate progress made, improvements, how can continue involvement (if wish to)
Potential to be a volunteering scheme that once created by the scholars could be carried on within their NGO and done on a montly basis within different regions across a company in collaboration with volunteers (e.g. could be university students and shared within nearby universities to encourage involvement)
Some of the partners we had in mind included:
- Laidlaw Schools Trust
- NGOs/Charities -> Mind/Young Minds/SANE/PAPYRUS/Nightline/Rethink Mental Illness/Mermaids [This will vary dependent upon location chosen]
Our proposal to these organisations is to host a selection of scholars (amount dependent upon discussion with NGO) for the six-week Leadership in Action period, providing students with mental health training and teaching training to support them during the project delivery. Laidlaw Scholars will be paired with an NGO to create material and deliver within schools across a region - could be a different school each week etc.
Who could/should own this from a university/scholar perspective?
We believe that it should be either owned by the Laidlaw Team (if in collaboration with Laidlaw Schools Trust) or the NGO directly.
What is the ask of the foundation?
To build a partnership with potential NGOs to carry out this project - emphasising what skills scholars could bring to the NGO to encourage collaboration. (International charities for UK scholars. Two schemes e.g. UK based NGO and an international one)
Funding for international travel if needed/Covered by the stipend.
I am happy to collaborate within this project creation further, if this is selected.
If you have any comments/questions regarding our proposal, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org