Isle Listen continues to expand its transformative mental wellbeing support in the Island’s schools
September 23, 2021
We have released our schools service evaluation report for the 2020/21 academic year which highlights the continued and growing need for greater mental wellbeing education, prevention and early intervention in the Island’s schools from early years through to higher education.
The report highlights a continuing trend of the existence of a mental health stigma amongst males and their reluctance to talk and seek help. Via our 1-to-1 schools Listening Service, (which had nearly 1,000 sessions during the 2020/21 academic year), just 24% were with males compared to 75% with females. This supports one study commissioned by the UK Mental Health Foundation which found that more females sought help for a mental health problem than males.
Our report also found that for the first time, the number of young people identifying as ‘other’ is a positive recognition of the increasing awareness and discussion around gender as earlier this year, the Island held its first official Isle of Pride event.
While there is a growing awareness of the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing on the Island, there are still many issues in identifying those who require support and, even when this is recognised, there can be long waiting lists for therapy and treatment.
During the 2020/21 academic year, we successfully extended the reach of our educational services into all 6 secondary schools on the Island – an increase from just two schools (Queen Elizabeth II High School and King William’s College) in our 2019/20 pilot year. This was a major step forward in our aim, and in a joint drive with the Z Zurich Foundation over 3 years, to reach the entire school and college population of the Isle of Man – approximately 15,000 students and over 1,000 people working within the education sector – as well as supporting employers and delivering community-wide campaigns and resources and highlights the growing need for such educational support.
Speaking about the report, Isle Listen Head of Services Annabel Chambers said, “There remains a continuing and vital need for wider reaching mental wellbeing awareness in the Island’s schools from early years upwards and we are delighted to have been able to now have a presence in all secondary schools. We have unsurprisingly found that the challenges of the global pandemic, lockdowns and periods of isolation, have significantly impacted the Island’s young people in a number of ways which has been evidenced by the increase in demand for our services this year and we are actively engaging with the Department for Education, Sport and Culture, on how we can support them with the mental wellbeing challenges that exist in schools.”
With the difficulties that many of us experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also piloted a unique art therapy project aimed at Year 6 primary school children designed to help them develop skills and resilience to manage the emotions they may face in life and transitioning to secondary school. During the 2020/21 academic year, our schools-based service had over 11,250 interactions with students across 26 primary schools and all 6 secondary schools which equated to approximately 190 hours’ of PSHE, workshop and assembly presentations as well as providing educational support to parents.
In October 2020, we announced our collaboration with the Z Zurich Foundation (ZZF), the charitable foundation funded by various members of the Zurich Insurance Group, which aims to positively impact the lives of 10 million people worldwide by helping them adapt to climate change, improve mental wellbeing and enabling social equity.
One of our aims is to change behaviours and attitudes around mental wellbeing and stop the stigma that surrounds mental health and the ZZF collaboration is enabling Isle Listen to accelerate its programmes.
Isle Listen Chief Executive Andrea Chambers commented, “Through our joint drive with ZZF, the Isle of Man is at the forefront of change around early intervention mental wellbeing support and for mental health to be treated with equal importance to physical health. We have an ambitious objective to create a unique and innovative blueprint for change that could benefit other small Islands and communities around the world and how they too can work towards removing the stigma that surrounds mental health by taking a collaborative approach to work with statutory services, educational providers, employers, community groups and other third sector organisations.
“As we start the new academic year, we plan to further scale-up our educational programmes to reach more of the Island’s school and college population. Isle Listen is a charitable initiative of MCH Psychological Services, which is an Isle of Man registered charity that can trace its roots back over 35 years to the Lisa Lowe Centre and Manx Cancer Help, and like so many charities over the past year, we have never experienced such immense pressure on our fundraising abilities. The charity is only funded through the wonderful generosity of its supporters and our collaboration with ZZF means that for the services we provide to continue longer-term, we must try to secure funding from other third-party donors and supporters.”