Brandon Connect in partnership with Arsenal in the Community, is a service co-funded by Islington Giving. The service provides vital therapeutic support to young people, whose progression in education, training or employment is being impeded by a range of mental health challenges.
We interviewed Geoffrey Baruch, Project Clinician at Brandon Connect, who shared several examples that highlight the impact of the service on young men with multi-complex needs. All names have been changed.
David, 18, had been experiencing bullying at school leading to poor attendance and social anxiety. David was also experiencing several physical health challenges including severe malnutrition, as well as problems at home. Geoffrey also found that David was robbed at knife point at age 15, which worsened his social anxiety and fear of meeting new people.
David was keen to attend SPEAR, a local youth employment programme but couldn’t attend due his social anxiety. Striving to build up his confidence, Geoffrey learnt that David hadn’t used the Underground or Overground rail systems for five years due to panic attacks and disliking enclosed spaces. Together they agreed an appropriate strategy to help David travel and use the trains on his own. This involved using the station at off-peak times to slowly build up confidence.
Following multiple sessions with Geoffrey, David is now able to travel on the Underground and Overground unaccompanied. Although David still experiencing fears related to family breakdown, there have been significant reductions in his anxiety and depression generally. David has also started training on an authorised gardening course and occasionally works with a friend doing gardening jobs. Subsequently, David found employment involving travelling around London cleaning parks, which he has been enjoying.
Adam, 17, was struggling to attend a BTech sports trainer programme due to social anxiety. On one occasion, he arrived at class but had to leave because he thought he would vomit.
Geoffrey worked closely with Adam to explore several background matters that were affecting Adam. This included Adam’s mother struggling financially and Adam’s girlfriend having difficulties with her family and moving in to live with Adam’s family. Adam was keeping his worries to himself and not sharing them with his mother due to fear of further burdening her.
Further exploration of these challenges helped Adam to speak to his mother, which in turn reduced his social anxiety and related symptoms. Adam was able to start attending classes freely again.
Zak, 18, is another example of a young person’s resilience and strength during difficult times. Zak had lost his friend in a violent attack and was subsequently going through the bereavement process. Having witnessed the traumatic incident, Zak’s sleeping pattern and routine had become severely worse.
Working closely with Zak, Geoffrey explained that Zak’s response to this shocking incident was completely normal. Together they began to develop strategies to improve Zak’s sleeping pattern. They also discussed how it might be helpful to share his feelings with his parents, with whom he had a good relationship with.
Over six weeks, Zak’s sleeping pattern improved which led to a better routine overall. Zak also started to better adjust to what had happened to his friend, and has made huge progress since starting on the programme.
This feature is part of our content for Mental Health Awareness Month, highlighting our collaboration with Brandon Centre and Arsenal in the Community to improve mental health in Islington. Find out more about Brandon Connect in our interview with Project Clinician, Geoffrey Baruch, and sign up to our newsletter for more inspiring content.