“Every day feels like a challenge, from the moment I get up and look in the mirror I stress about my looks, my body, my clothes. I check my phone all the time to see if anyone is chatting with me and hope today is going to be o.k. – that it is no my turn to be ignored”
This feedback came from one of a group of girls and young women Mentor worked with to develop our Girls Allowed Project (GAP). It speaks directly to some of the challenges that girls and young women in Scotland feel they face day-to-day and that can have a significant impact on their self-image, self-confidence and health and wellbeing. GAP is a response to those challenges. It recognises that girls and young women, like boys and young men, grapple with gender-specific issues as they grow up in modern Britain and that these issues can become particularly acute for young people who are made vulnerable through poverty, who are in care, or who may have had contact with the youth justice system.
GAP is designed to empower young women in Scotland through engaging them in a programme that builds confidence through improving mindfulness, communication, problem-solving and healthy relationship skills. It also aims to raise awareness of health specific issues like good diet, the importance and reward of physical exercise and awareness of the risks associated with alcohol and other drugs. To begin with, GAP will run in Southwest Edinburgh, where our Scotland offices are located.
This week, we are highlighting the launch of GAP for some very important reasons. One of these is that this week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2019 and the theme this year is #BeBodyKind. The connections between young people’s mental health, their environment and circumstances and whether they feel prepared and empowered to make healthy choices for their future are complex. There is, however, a close connection between helping to support young people to take care of their mental health and their ability to navigate the difficult emotional situations and challenges they can encounter day-to-day.
The young women we spoke to in developing GAP all highlighted body-image as an area that causes them anxiety in their lives. Because of this, an important part of the programme supports young women to develop confidence through a focus on health and wellbeing. This includes encouraging participants to discover the fun in and rewards of physical exercise and raising their awareness of more negative health behaviours, including the risks associated with alcohol and other drugs. Bringing these different elements of health and well-being into conversation with young women’s concerns about confidence, emotional well-being and self-image through an interactive programme is an especially powerful way to support them in making healthy choices for their futures. We can’t wait to get started!
Mentor is currently taking referrals for the Girls Allowed Project. If you know a young person who you think could benefit from participation in GAP, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Project Manager, Debra Anderson: