How Body & Soul combats youth suicide
As the head of the youth suicide prevention programme You Are Not Alone (YANA), Kelsey Hylland regularly comes into contact with young people who have reached a desperately low point in their lives. But thanks to YANA – a 6-month programme offering therapy and coping skills – she also sees lives transformed.
Take Sam^ for example. She struggled with her mental health throughout her time at university, but never found quite the right support. Kelsey, 29, said, “There were times when she couldn’t get out of bed – she had no motivation to finish her degree or live a life. She didn’t necessarily want to die, but she just couldn’t find a way forward.”
After she left university, Sam referred herself to Body & Soul, a National Lottery-funded organisation that runs the YANA programme. She completed the 6-month course and felt able to start work as a self-employed part-time music teacher. Kelsey said, “She had found a real passion and was trying to build her self-confidence. Then the first lockdown hit and she quickly felt overwhelmed and quite lost."
Body & Soul had already moved the YANA programme online using National Lottery funding – part of the £1Billion distributed to good causes across the UK to provide support in this unprecedented time. It also used the funding to set up a new programme called MindSET – a weekly livestream hosted by a therapist who discusses coping skills – that is available to any young person in psychological distress.
Sam became the organiser of the MindSET programme and flourished. Kelsey said, “She has grown in the position and become the go-to person for the programme.”
The effect on 25-year-old Sam was remarkable. Kelsey said, “She recently applied for a job for the first time in her life. A job that will bring together not just her passion, but also her experience of mental health and therapy.”
Zoe Reynolds, Head of Pathways and Programmes at Body & Soul, said it was clear the pandemic was taking a heavy toll on the mental health of many vulnerable young people. Many of those using the YANA programme, for example, were put on furlough or lost work and the loss of routine has been extremely difficult.
In the final quarter of 2020 the number of young people referred to Body & Soul doubled. Zoe said, “I think the explosion of referrals towards the end of last year and into this year is indicative of how young people’s mental health is suffering.”
With the help of National Lottery funding Body & Soul’s move to offering its support and counselling services online – a switch made a week before the first lockdown in March 2020 – has been as seamless as possible. Indeed the project is now reaching and helping more vulnerable young people than previously.
Zoe said, “National Lottery funding has been essential in allowing us to maintain the quality of service that we offer and enabling us to run everything online. There’s a real energy about our online services that we wouldn’t have been able to create without that support.”
National Lottery players have raised £1Billion to help people across the UK during these unprecedented times.
10th March 2021
^Name changed to protect identity.
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