Our local partners at Brandon Centre have been working to support mental wellbeing of young people in Islington for more than 50 years.
We worked with them and with Arsenal in the Community to establish Brandon Connect, led by Programme Director Geoffrey Baruch, a targeted programme working to support 16 to 25 year olds with emotional and mental health issues.
During the pandemic, young people have experienced an increased sense of hopelessness. According to a survey conducted by YoungMinds to over 2,000 young people, 67% of them believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
Initiatives like Brandon Connect continue to make sure that young residents receive the support they need and can take advantage of opportunities when lockdown ends. This is how Geoffrey Baruch describes the impact of Covid-19 and the ways they are working with young people:
The impact of Covid 19 on the life chances of young people who are being supported by the Brandon Connect and Arsenal in the Community services, whose mental health problems are a barrier to engaging in employment, education or training, cannot be underestimated.
Young person getting advice via Unsplash
The pandemic has led to isolation, diminished opportunity for employment and training. This undermines their sense of hope, increases depressive tendencies and reinforces existing maladaptive patterns of behaviour e.g. typically sleeping during the day, being on screens until early hours before dawn increasing the risk of conflict between the young person and their parent. The concern is that the more these behaviours and states of mind become entrenched the more difficult it becomes for the young person to relinquish them.
John has also been supported and encouraged by the psychotherapist to research potential job opportunities
Nonetheless progress can be made so that the young person is in a position to take advantage of training and job opportunities when lockdown ends.
John, a bright but emotionally and medically vulnerable 22 year old young man, recommended by Arsenal in the Community, has been in weekly remote therapy for six months. He has been helped to identify specific areas of work that he would like to pursue when lockdown ends. He has also been supported and encouraged by the psychotherapist to research potential job opportunities that the employability lead at Arsenal in the Community can help him hopefully take advantage of when lockdown ends. In the therapy, we have addressed feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and disrupted sleep routine. According to his self-report and symptom checklists that he has been completing there has been clinically significant improvement.
This case and the work described is characteristic of referrals to both Brandon Connect and Arsenal in the Community services.