We are starting to provide vital mental health provision to hard-to-reach members of the community through an innovative new approach, bringing therapeutic support to the streets.
In Lambeth, only 17% of mental health need is being met, and thousands are being left without support. For young people, the effects of this is huge: about half of all lifetime mental health disorders start by the age of 14; 75% will have started before the age of 24.
Early intervention and prevention are therefore critical. This is particularly important for our work with young people at risk of gang involvement in Brixton. Approximately 26% of gang members have a suspected diagnosable mental health problem, but addressing these issues is often sidelined and left untreated.
Through training with Streetherapy, our team will deliver innovative therapeutic methods that are flexible and adaptive, giving assistance where the young people are at and when they need it most. Because many of the most at-risk young people do not engage with statutory services, we hope that our street-based intervention methods will give access to this essential support where it is most needed.
The team will create safe spaces for young people to process experiences, offer mental health First Aid, give one-to-one support through mentoring, and refer to other professionals when needed. These practices will add to what we are already doing in Angell Town, strengthening relationships and supporting the community.
How does this contribute to peace?
The risk factors driving poor mental health correlate closely to those driving young people into violence and gang activity.
As young people are enabled to better process their emotions, this should lead to a reduction in violent behaviour.
The methods that the team are being trained in have an excellent track record of bridging young people back into education, employment or training. As they transition, the young people are less likely to become involved in gang-related activities and anti-social behaviour.
Engaging with mental health is essential if we want to make a lasting difference to the conflict dynamics within these communities.