Participating in engagement schemes improves young people’s wellbeing
New research by an expert from The University of Manchester has shown that taking part in youth engagement schemes like National Citizen Service can lead to significant and lasting improvements in young people’s mental wellbeing, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Evidence shows young people’s mental health is worsening, a trend being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and the isolation it has caused. Young people growing up in disadvantaged communities in particular face significant challenges to their mental wellbeing; especially since the onset of the pandemic.
Dr James Laurence from the University’s Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research wanted to know if getting involved in youth engagement activities could improve young people’s wellbeing through experiences which encourage cooperation, empowerment and positive relationships.
To explore this, he looked at how taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) - a 3 to 4-week scheme where young people aged 16-17 spend time living away from home, learning new life skills, and engaging to help their communities - impacted young people’s satisfaction with their lives.
Around 3,500 participants were surveyed just before taking part, and then again three months after completion. The research found that, compared to a control group of young people, participating led to a significant improvement in mental wellbeing, and that this improvement was still evident at least 3-4 months after they had finished taking part. This appeared to be driven by two things - firstly, they reported increases in the number of people they could rely on for support if they needed help; and secondly, they became more confident in themselves and felt greater control over their lives and their futures.
What was particularly striking was how positive the impact was for young people from more disadvantaged communities, who joined NCS with much lower levels of wellbeing than their peers from less disadvantaged backgrounds. However, after finishing the scheme, disadvantaged youths reported just much well-being as their less disadvantaged peers - in other words, taking part closed the gap in wellbeing between those from the least and most disadvantaged communities.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/engagement-schemes-significantly-improve-young-peoples-wellbeing/)