More than 100,000 teenagers a year will be given mental health training to help them cope with the pressure of exam and build up their self-esteem, the Prime Minister announces today.
Theresa May will unveil plans to make a new mental health awareness course part of the National Citizen Service programme for teenagers in a bid to reduce the levels of depression and anxiety.
Mental health issues disproportionately affect young people, with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 18.
The course will be developed with mental health experts and NCS graduates and be delivered as part of the organisation’s programme to prepare young people for the challenges of adult life and work.
In an announcement to coincide with A-Level results day, Mrs May said: “Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that’s why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me.
“It is not only the pressures of school and exams, though that is in the front of our minds today, but also self-esteem issues, struggles with home life or friendships, and getting into university or finding a job that can all affect mental wellbeing.
“We know that early intervention, along with giving young people the confidence to access support, is key – that’s where NCS plays such a vital role.
“NCS helps young people forge friendships across social divides and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.
“This excellent enhancement to the NCS programme will build on the work we are already doing in schools and ensure young people get the knowledge and help they need.”
Under the plans the NCS is developing a dedicated mental health awareness course for teenagers talking part in NCS and offering mental health training for more than 10,000 frontline NCS staff to improve support to young people.
Officials said this would give them “a space to talk about mental health issues as part of a group – breaking the stigma about talking about such issues”.
Michael Lynas, chief executive of NCS, said: “NCS brings young people from all backgrounds together for a shared experience that changes their lives for good.
“By experiencing the great outdoors, building new friendships and serving their community these young people not only build important skills for life and work, they also improve their health and wellbeing.”