New one stop Mental Health & Resilience digital hub launched for Children and Young People

(L-R) Hayley Millar , David Duly (project workers) & Pauline Flanagan, Services Manager, Northern Area Mental Health Initiative

A digital hub, centred on mental health education, support and information has been developed by the Northern Area Mental Health Initiative (‘The Initiative’).

The digital mental health hub was created to complement and reinforce the learning provided through The Initiative’s free awareness raising workshops.

The Northern Area Mental Health Initiative is an exciting project led by Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN), in partnership with Action Mental Health and Nexus NI. The Initiative offers free mental health awareness and resilience training, internet safety, sexual abuse and exploitation education to children and young people aged from 8 to 25 in schools, youth clubs and through key contacts such as teachers, youth group leaders and parents groups.

Research has shown that approximately 20% of young people in Northern Ireland are suffering significant mental health problems by the time they are 18[i] and rates of mental ill health are estimated to be 25% higher than in other parts of the UK[ii]. The hub will not only provide a range of resources and coping strategies for children and young people so that they can access help when they need it, but will also be a platform for young people to have their voice heard and impact on policy decisions.

The hub offers age appropriate platforms, through a bespoke website, for young people, their families and the professionals who support them. Each platform gives information on how to look after mental health & wellbeing, how to access local help when needed and provides a range of resources including tips and coping strategies. A wide range of local and national information on services across Northern Ireland with a particular focus for those living in the Northern Zone is also provided.

Additional digital tools are provided on the hub for young people to have their voice heard, take part in surveys, lobby local commissioners and policy makers, create youth quakes, build resilience walls and participate in innovative social media platforms to inform service development. Young people will also be able to hear from their peers how to cope with life’s ups and downs, on issues such as bullying, relationships, negative influences of social media, risks of online grooming/sexual exploitation, suicidal ideation, sexual orientation, and social instability.

Pauline Flanagan, Project Manager for The Initiative says

“I am delighted that we have been able to launch our website. It brings together a wide range of invaluable information around young people’s mental health and is designed to be a straightforward way for children, young people and those who support them to access information on mental health and other services in the local area.  My vision is that it will become a central, go-to hub which young people, teachers, parents, professionals and decision makers can access for current information that they can rely on. We will continue to develop the hub by working alongside children, young people, professionals and partners so that the platform content continues to evolve based on local need, discussions, and with young people in mind”.

A spokesperson from the Executive Office said,

“The Northern Area Mental Health Initiative has received almost £1million funding from the Social Investment Fund under the Delivering Social Change framework to promote positive mental health and well-being, early intervention and pathways to appropriate support should mental health problems arise in 8 to 25 year olds. With the breadth of information out there for Children, Young People and their Key Contacts, it can be difficult for them to access appropriate information and resources for their target group. The Initiative’s website brings all that information into one online information hub and provides an important gateway for mental health and support. It is great to see how the Social Investment Fund projects are making a real difference for the better to the lives of children and young people.”

The Northern Area Mental Health Initiative website can be viewed here.

If you would like to book a workshop for your school or community group, visit the website, email northernareamhi@amh.org.uk or call 028 9442

[i] http://www.niccy.org/media/2810/niccy-scoping-paper-mental-health-review-apr-2017.pdf

[ii][ii] http://www.niccy.org/media/2810/niccy-scoping-paper-mental-health-review-apr-2017.pdf


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