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Safe Space: Peer leadership to promote positive mental health among marginalised young people

Empowering young people to develop behaviours and habits that will support their positive mental health is critically important especially in the face of the youth mental health epidemic that we are witnessing today. Mental health issues affecting young people are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Terms that help to describe this youth mental health epidemic did not exist a decade ago but are now commonplace in our vocabulary. Terms such as FOMO (fear of missing out), social anxiety, social media validation, virtual identities and emerging issues including climate anxiety caused by the unknown consequences of climate change on the future of younger generations, have joined the ranks of more established terms like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia etc. to provide a snapshot of the myriad of serious and mounting mental health concerns that afflict young people today. These concerns manifest themselves in drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, social withdrawal and in worst instances, suicide. Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. This research shows that there is a need to engage young people in tackling this issue, if they are to overcome the threats and negative impacts that poor mental health can have on their overall well-being, their personal development, their goals, expectations and active participation in civic and social life. Through the peer leadership programme that will be developed by the Safe Space project, partner organisations aim to work directly with young people in their communities, to empower them to become local peer advocates in promoting positive mental health and to tackling this scourge on the well-being of our younger generations.

The project will produce the following outputs:

(1) Peer Leadership Programme - this programme will comprise 4 modules that will support young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to become leaders in tackling poor mental health among their peers.

(2) Self-help Cartoons and Resources - this suite of positive mental health cartoons and self-help resources will support young people who are cut off from service providers and counsellors, to access resources that can help them to develop positive mental health habits. They will also be used by newly-trained peer youth leaders in their local mental health promotion activities aimed at their peers.

(3) Safe Space Stories Video Library - this library of Safe Space success stories will act as inspiration and motivation for young people who are currently experiencing mental health problems, but who are looking for support and guidance to overcome these issues. Producing the video case studies will also empower the young people engaged in their production to tell their story of overcoming negative mental health and developing positive behaviours and habits.

This project runs from February 2020 to January 2022.


Ballybeen Women’s Centre (UK) – Coordinator
The Rural Hub (Ireland)
Cooperativa Sociale Prometeo onlus a Mutualità Prevalente (Italy)
Youth in Science and Business Foundation (Estonia)