A new mental health improvement scheme for young people, called the Advantage programme, is being launched this month by three London football clubs – Arsenal, Leyton Orient and West Ham United (collectively known as London United) and various NHS specialists, including NELFT.
The Advantage programme will focus on improving education, employment options, and physical activity. By providing support in areas such as self-esteem and confidence, it is hoped that youngsters will be better equipped to handle the transition from lockdown to the ‘new normal’.
Advantage will work using referrals from GPs, schools, and youth clubs to local Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS), including some services operated by NELFT. Those young people considered to have mild to moderate mental health needs brought about (or worsened) by the COVID-19 pandemic will be invited to join the programme.
With increasing evidence that mental health problems are one of the main consequences of the ongoing pandemic, NELFT’s CAMHS in Waltham Forest will work closely with the community foundation at Leyton Orient, and in partnership with The Apax Foundation and the Royal Free Charity to develop coordinated support for young people.
To ensure focus is on the needs of the young people, there will initially be 30 participants, with more spaces becoming available as the programme progresses.
Lynn McBride, Assistant Director of Children’s Integrated Health Services at NELFT, said:
“This is a great opportunity for children and young people to be more connected and supported by this innovative and inspiring project. The NELFT CAMHS service in Waltham Forest will offer its expertise to the coaches to teach valuable coping skills and strategies to improve the mental health and resilience for the young people involved.”
Joseph Lyons, West Ham United Foundation CEO, said:
“The pandemic has created an increase in mental health problems, while demand on the NHS is also increasing. Therefore, working with NHS experts and led by the need they are seeing, we have an opportunity to intervene through this Advantage programme; giving regular, direct and bespoke help for young people to overcome the health and social issues they are facing so that they can thrive again.”