Number of young people seeking help from mental health charity trebled due to Covid stress

Sam* was a very troubled 23-year-old university graduate when she turned to the unique health and wellbeing charity Body & Soul for help.

“Sam was in a dark place when she came to us in 2018,” recalls Kelsey Hylland, leader of the National Lottery-supported charity’s group therapy for young people aged 16 to 30 who have attempted suicide.

“She had struggled with mental health problems throughout her university career. She was self-harming, had attempted suicide and had got to the point where she found it difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed. She had sought counselling, but found it lacking. She simply couldn’t find a way out.”

Body & Soul supports families struggling with the life-threatening effects of trauma, and is one of many projects being supported by the £1billion raised by National Lottery players to help people across the UK during these unprecedented times.

Thanks to The National Lottery, the charity has been able to enhance its suicide prevention efforts. These include delivering 1,500 support calls helping young people who have attempted suicide in the past six months and 44 therapy skills groups.

Sam was put on Body & Soul’s six-month You’re Not Alone programme. This combines weekly two-hour group therapy sessions with holistic all-round support to boost self-confidence and encourage social interaction through workshops and activities at the charity’s London community centre.

It was the breakthrough Sam needed. “After six months she had already made massive strides in developing her self-confidence, so she felt able to start working as a part-time teacher – teaching being her passion,” says Kelsey.

“When lockdown temporarily put a stop to that, Sam was able to continue her involvement in the Body & Soul community through volunteering. She flourished with this opportunity and became a lead volunteer in one of the programmes. With the end of lockdown in sight, she’s looking forward to applying for other jobs.”

Sam is one of many Body & Soul success stories since the charity was founded 24 years ago by Emma Colyer MBE to support families of those affected by HIV.

It has since expanded its activities, partly thanks to £73,000 of National Lottery funding, and now supports people of all ages who have experienced childhood trauma.

The funding has also been vital in helping the charity deal with the difficulties of the past year. Covid-related stress has trebled the number of young people coming to Body & Soul with mental health problems and lockdown has meant switching the support programmes to online streaming.

“That, especially, is where The National Lottery’s support has been a massive help,” says Body & Soul’s head of pathways and programmes Zoë Reynolds. “It enabled us to make the switch straightaway, without any break in the services that we offer.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, nearly 9,000 community schemes have been funded, more than 750 support groups looking after the isolated have been helped, and over 300 community gardens have flourished. You should all be proud of the difference you’ve made to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

  • National Lottery
  • London
  • Coronavirus

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