Championing healthy relationships

and sexual wellbeing

RSE for young people with mental ill health

1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom - and only a quarter of them have contact with a mental health specialist.

Not all of these young people will have severe problems but sadly many will experience significant difficulties, and miss time from school and therefore any RSE they would have otherwise received.

For the past 2 years, Gareth, our Esteem Network Director has had the privilege of leading a multi-sessional pilot programme providing RSE within the education unit attached to the Chester based tier 4 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) secure inpatient unit.

Gareth explains why we began this work:

“Young people come onto the unit with a wide variety of mental health needs including, but not limited to, eating disorders, self-harming behaviour, depression, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. 

Whilst their mental health needs are diverse and specific to each young person, they all remain adolescent young people at various stages of physical and emotional development.

They have questions about relationships and sex, just like any other young person who is as trying to make sense of and navigate becoming an adult.”

We believe that every young person deserves the same access to high quality RSE - with an approach that meets their specific educational needs.

Gareth explains why it was important that he adapted his approach, activities and materials when working in the CAMHS unit:

“A common (but not universal) characteristic of the young people on the project was low social confidence; and a significant number struggled with verbal engagement.

They may be fully interested in the topic, and wanting to engage, but the verbalisation required by many classic small group teaching approaches was not appropriate.

Alongside low social confidence, a greater percentage of the young people, compared to the general population, had been diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum. 

This had to be taken into consideration when planning the sessions and materials, as some of the young people found it hard to verbalise their own feelings, understand other people's emotions, or read body language.”

This pilot project triggered the development of new physical resources which became our ‘Emotional Wellbeing Youth Worker Pack’. This tactile resource is designed to help young people think about and explore their feelings and emotional wellbeing, and is available to buy here.

Built on the learning from the pilot programme, we have developed a training workshop that will help get you started in providing RSE for young people who are living with mental ill health.

The one day workshop is running in Chester on Wednesday 26th February 2020.

As this is developmental training, it is only available to those who are already trained in delivering RSE.

This course will develop your existing knowledge and skills in RSE and help you to:

  • Support young people experiencing mental ill health to grow their knowledge and develop their attitude around key relationships and sex education topics;
  • Understand some key mental ill health conditions and explore how these may impact your provision of RSE materials;
  • Develop your small group facilitation skills with young people facing significant challenges;
  • Consider how to better meet the needs of young people outside of mainstream education contexts;
  • Grow in confidence to plan and lead adaptive RSE sessions; and
  • Explore the impact of non-formal educational activities in planned sessions.

Our hope is that everyone who attends this training will leave with greater confidence, knowledge and skills to expand their existing provision of RSE to young people experiencing mental ill health outside of mainstream education.

To book your place and find out more, click here