The idea for Fierce Teens came from talking to a desperate mum. She explained that her 17 year old daughter was really struggling with self esteem and mental health but this is an age that the government provision did not cover. In Dorset, CAMHS typically ends at 15 and Steps 2 Wellbeing starts at 18. My research identified that this is in fact a nationwide problem. I read on The Children’s Society website that, “16 and 17 year olds are the age group most likely to experience mental health difficulties”. Shockingly these “vulnerable teenagers end up falling through the cracks of both child and adult mental health services in the UK”. It became glaringly obvious that teens would really benefit from a support network like my pre-existing group; Fierce and Fantastic Females.
The existing group is targeted at 28-55 year olds, most of which are mums. I have acquired 1.5k members in just 8 short months. We explore all kinds of issues that are relevant to the these ladies. In the past this has ranged from regaining confidence to bereavement, handling divorces to employment law. It's totally free and includes online support, face to face events in Poole/Bournemouth and a mother and baby group for ladies with social anxiety. Our resident psychologist, transformational coach, nutritionist, employment law expert, family law solicitor, parenting experts, alcohol misuse expert and makeover team are always on hand to answer the ladies questions. It has become a source of real comfort to my members ...
Fierce Teens will emulate this model but focusing on issues that matter to teenagers. Using information from my Fierce Teens focus group, I established the following priorities. I would like to:
- Tackle body image and encourage teens to embrace what makes them unique.
- Launch a campaign against media's representation of beauty. I wish to shine a light on the use of photoshopping and campaign against the overwhelming use of filters.
- Spotlight inspirational young people who are really bucking societal image pressures and launch a campaign focusing on appreciating the qualities young people possess outside of physical beauty (#morethanaprettyface).
- Offer an online helpline for teens to express concerns and ask for help.
- Create a forum that teens can discuss their problems and seek advice from each other.
- Provide twice weekly expert webinars: topics will include but are not limited to managing the stress of applying to Uni, sitting exams and planning careers as well as focusing on family or personal issues that can affect teenagers. These include giving support to young carers, helping teens with addicted parents, offering support for bereavement or family breakdowns and much more.
- Encourage schools to join the Fierce Teen movement. I want to visit schools in order to hold assemblies that promote the online group. I also will create school packs which include lesson resources about self-esteem and mental health issues and give guidance to teachers on how to help teens in crisis. This is the part of the project that will generate funding. Schools will be asked to use part of their PSHCE budget to subscribe. Essentially they will be outsourcing their personal and social studies.
- Create steering groups out of local, passionate teens. They will help plan the project as well as manage the social media group.
- Offer youth groups around Poole and Bournemouth for teens struggling with friendship, self esteem and MH. I want to recruit volunteer young leaders to lead the sessions.
The project is still in its infancy and I need to carefully consider how I achieve these priorities. I therefore want to use a significant amount of time planning with my psychologist Dr Lauren Rooney (in order to gain a qualified insight into MH and esteem), forming a steering group and building links with local Sixth Form Centres and Colleges. I want the project to be really relevant so have established a group of 5 16/17 year old girls who are acting as a sounding board and focus group. My current plan is to spend 6 months compiling resources and planning as well as building my social media Facebook page and Instagram following. I would like to launch the project in schools in June; after exams as schools have more flexibility and free time. The money raised by Crowd Funder would fund transport, any costs associated with creating resources and a salary for myself for 3 months.