HeadStart Hull provides a range of universal and targeted mental wellbeing services for young people, parents and carers by adopting an assets-based approach, which describes the skills and support young people need to develop resilience and cope with difficulty and adversity. The overall programme aims to help improve and sustain the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people with:
- A trio of trusted adults
- Aspirations for the future
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Positive peer networks
- Stronger family networks
HeadStart Hull works closely with young people to shape its services and gather views on what is needed to support their mental health and wellbeing. HeadStart Hull’s website, How Are You Feeling?, was designed to be the trusted source for mental health information in Hull. It provides a directory to HeadStart’s services (as well as other services in Hull), national mental health and youth organisations, mental health information and advice, and ways to gain work and volunteering experience in Hull through helping other young people with their mental health. Young people’s input in 2018 helped ensure that the website is relevant, useful and appealing, and that it best functions as the go-to directory for all mental health enquiries for children and young people, and their parents and carers. Between January 2019 and November 2021, the website has been accessed by over 82,000 individual users, equivalent to over 30% of the population of Hull.
The website features a range of printable tips and advice for young people on common issues, such as staying safe online, dealing with bullying, exam stress and managing transitions. It also features a section on having difficult conversations about mental health and wellbeing with different people, including parents, friends and a doctor. The resources set out what young people may expect from these conversations, such as how parents might react, what friends might ask and what might happen next after speaking to a doctor. The young people’s page provides a range of case studies that show what can happen if they ask for help, and the positive impacts that HeadStart support has had on some young people who have received it.
Parents and carers
The parents and carers section of the website details help available through HeadStart:
- the parent peer mentoring service, where parents are both able to receive support from, and provide support to, other parents
- one-to-one and group parenting support for children aged 10-16
- support for parents aged 5-16 with a disability.
The website features a series of short films produced by youth centres in Hull on a range of topics associated with positive mental health and wellbeing, such as children’s physical development, emotional development and expressive arts and design. There are case studies, postcards, and tips from parent peer mentors on how to support young people’s emotional wellbeing.
This section provides resources and information for any professional working with children, young people and families to support their mental health and wellbeing are available to access from a different part of the website. This includes a full HeadStart Hull directory detailing all services available and who they are designed to support. It also provides a HeadStart Hull Checklist to help professionals identify if young people and/or parents and carers may be needing additional support through HeadStart. Other topics include guidance for supporting children and young people with educational transitions, support and training on the PSHE and RSE curriculum which is offered free of charge to school staff across Hull, and Thrive training for all professionals working with young people and families. Useful resources are pooled together, and all information shared and discussed at School Cluster Meetings, which take place in schools across Hull, are provided.
Linked to all three sections of the website is Refresh, a confidential drugs and alcohol advice service for children, young people, parents and carers. Refresh provides support to all children and young people who may have worries or concerns about their parents’, or their own, substance misuse, and for parents, carers and professionals who are worried about substance misuse in themselves, their children and any of their clients.
In May 2019, the How Are You Feeling? website was rebranded following a review of the site in consultation with HeadStart’s young people. Young people participated in consultation workshops, to establish what functionality and content could be improved or removed; and how they would like to website to look and feel, and how it should be structured. Young people wanted the website to look professional and trustworthy without being patronising by conforming to stereotypes for example, the graffiti, slang and skateboarding motifs that featured in the original website developed by adults. Young people advised the web designers on how to ensure the rebranded website had a formal appearance without looking clinical.
The finished website was promoted through HeadStart Hull’s social media channels, as well as those of all its commissioned and partnered services and other organisations operating within Hull. HeadStart Hull staff also delivered presentations and handed out leaflets in schools and youth settings, and sent posters to organisations and local businesses popular amongst young people in Hull.
Since the relaunch, the website continues to be reviewed by young people, who write and publish their own content and review what has been written by adult professionals, particularly around appropriate language. The most frequently visited page of the website since the relaunch has been the ‘how can we help?’ part of the young people’s section, and young people have fed-back that the website is now easy to navigate and that they trust its content.