Today is World Mental Health Day, and the theme this year is ‘young people and mental health in a changing world’. To recognise this, we’re showcasing just some of the things we do here at the Growth Company to support our young learners who are on our traineeships, apprenticeships or study programmes.

According to the MILESTONE project, 75% of mental health problems are already established by the age of 24. And, if left untreated, ill mental health can open young people up to a wealth of secondary issues – including poor academic performance, unemployment and increased risk of alcohol and substance abuse. This shocking statistic is just one of the many reasons why we’re passionate about the support we offer to young people.

What do we do to help our learners?

When a learner comes to us, we immediately identify any additional mental health support needs based on what they’ve disclosed to us. This could be something they’ve stated on their application form, a concern they’ve raised at an open event or something which we’ve been made aware of by the school. Our open events are a great way for potential learners to meet with a sector specialist and discuss any barriers that are preventing them from progressing onto an apprenticeship – either in a mental health capacity or otherwise.  

Once students are enrolled onto a course, we have learner support tutors who are on-hand to provide help for a wide variety of mental health issues. If we don’t have the skills to deal with a complex case in-house, we have links to a number of referral agencies who can offer tailored support based on the needs of the individual.

We’re also mindful that new environments can be daunting for young people, especially for those who are suffering from anxiety - that’s why we go the extra mile to make our learners feel comfortable, no matter what mental health issues they’re facing. Whether it’s arranging personal tours of our training centres so they can avoid crowds, or providing a free minibus so they can travel to our SkillCentre with friendly faces and not have to deal with the stress of public transport, we’re all about making their life a little easier.

Introducing mental health first aid training

We’re in the process of rolling out mental health first aid training across our organisation, which will put our staff in an even better position to support learners who are experiencing ill mental health. The training will give staff a clearer understanding of the wide range of mental health problems that exist, help them to spot signs that someone is experiencing issues and show them what can be done to help learners to get back to a healthier, happier place.

Not only that, but we will also be able to advise employers who have apprentices with additional mental health needs on how they can provide the best possible support to our learners. If required, we can also refer employers to different agencies who specialise in all kinds of mental health needs, to give them expert advice on how to care for their apprentices.

In a world full of pressures to succeed, it’s no wonder that mental health problems are rife among young people. However, thanks to the help and support that we’re proud to provide, we’re showing learners across Greater Manchester and beyond that they can achieve great things without the weight of a mental health problem weighing heavily on their shoulders. We actively encourage openness, and the more we can get young people to talk, the more we can help and get them on the road to recovery.