Youth social prescribing tackling mental health crisis in new approach

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The new approach is seen as critical to increasing enjoyment levels for all children and young people and helping them stay active for life but has particular benefits for young people experiencing poor mental health

The new approach is seen as critical to increasing enjoyment levels for all children and young people and helping them stay active for life but has particular benefits for young people experiencing poor mental health

Child-first sports coaches are being put at the centre of a new approach delivering socially prescribed physical activity to help tackle the rising mental health crisis amongst children and young people.

With more children and young people than ever needing mental health care and latest NHS figures showing nearly half a million are awaiting treatment, youth social prescribing where GP’s and health professionals prescribe sport and physical activity led by child-first coaches is now supporting young people with a range of mental health conditions.

Child-first coaching, where coaches focus on championing every child’s voice, choice and journey in sport and physical activity, aims to ensure positive experiences for every young person through the people who know them best – their coaches. The approach is seen as critical to increasing enjoyment levels for all children and young people and helping them stay active for life but has particular benefits for young people experiencing poor mental health.

Youth social prescribing aims to help tackle the growing mental health crisis among children and young people Youth social prescribing aims to help tackle the growing mental health crisis among children and young people

Youth social prescribing aims to help tackle the growing mental health crisis among children and young people

Social prescribing has traditionally been used to help adults and older adults find non-medical ways of combating loneliness and stress, but now in young people, mental health and emotional wellbeing is the most common reason for referrals.

The new youth social prescribing approach led by national youth charity StreetGames is aiming to work with 1,200 NHS Primary Care Networks across the country with the way children and young people are coached seen as critical to helping increase enjoyment levels and supporting those with a range of mental health conditions.

The charity is part of Play Their Way, a national campaign which is aiming to create a nation of child-first coaches in communities across the country, by providing support and resources for them to help children stay active for longer.

Young people who are struggling with their mental health can now be referred to activity sessions in their local community by medical professionals where they work closely with coaches to co-create physical activity that focusses on their individual needs to improve their mental health. It’s hoped that youth social prescribing will act as an early mental health intervention leading to a reduction in hospital admissions and pressure on the NHS.

Speaking on National Social Prescribing Day, when Play Their Way launched a new video on youth social prescribing, StreetGames Director Hannah Crane reflected on the incredible positive difference made to the lives of young people through youth social prescribing:

“Youth social prescribing is a vital new approach that can make a huge difference to children and young people experiencing poor mental health. It’s really important that coaches take a child-first approach which can potentially help reduce hospital admissions and pressure on the NHS.

StreetGames have founded our Youth Social Prescribing Network with the aim of delivering the approach for children and young people across every Primary Care Network in the country.. We are proud to support and celebrate the amazing people delivering physical activity that gives every young person a voice and a choice.”

“Via the Play Their Way campaign, we want to further unlock the potential of coaches to directly support the wellbeing of children and young people.

Play Their Way was launched to transform the way children and young people are coached in by prioritising their rights, needs and enjoyment in a ‘child-first’ approach.

The campaign is funded by Sport England and The National Lottery and is led by the 17 partner organisations that make up the Children’s Coaching Collaborative.

To learn more about the campaign, access resources and sign up to join the biggest grassroots movement to transform the way we coach our children and young people visit www.playtheirway.org

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