New mental health toolkit launched to support teenage boys' emotional wellbeing

The Salvation Army and Youthscape have partnered together to create a new innovative toolkit supporting the mental health of teenage boys following a rise in suicides among men.

The six-session course, called Upbeat, combines film, Spotify playlists, wellbeing exercises and creative activities to help 13- to 16-year-old boys develop a healthy approach to their emotional wellbeing.

The two Christian organisations have worked with a number of celebrities on the course, including rapper Guvna B, former Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, and singer-songwriter Steph Macleod. 

They appear in different videos to talk about their own mental health struggles and how they have been helped emotionally through music. 

Matt Perkins, from The Salvation Army's national youth department, said that with suicides among men on the rise in the UK, it was "vital" that the organisation be a part of the response.

"The Salvation Army works with thousands of teenage boys across the UK and Republic of Ireland through church activities, scouts, school outreach and community services for families in need," he said.

"We know many of them are struggling with their mental health and this course is designed to ensure youth workers have the skills to support them.

"Since the mid-1990s, three-quarters of UK suicides have been among men and the Department of Health has warned that half of mental health problems in adult life start before the age of 14 and seventy-five per cent before the age of 18.  As a church and charity is it vital that we play our part in helping to address this."

Upbeat was launched over the weekend at Youthscape's National Youth Ministry Weekend.  It is designed for boys of all faiths and none, and includes optional spiritual reflections for groups exploring a Christian perspective. 

Perkins said it was important that boys receive help before mental health issues set in.

"We want to best prepare teenage boys for life and give them steps they can take to help protect their mental health," he said. 

"We cannot sit back and wait until boys become adults to tackle mental health issues – it's vital we connect with boys now before struggles become too overwhelming or radically reduce their life opportunities.

"Youth workers have a unique chance to step in and support teenagers. Upbeat will equip them to open up conversations about emotional wellbeing and mental health at a crucial point.

"We pray this resource will be used to develop supportive communities in which all young people can take part in honest conversations, recognise it's OK to struggle with mental health and know there is help available."

Upbeat is available to buy from the Youthscape website.