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Our mental health support for young people who are here without family
Most mental health practitioners aren’t trained to help traumatised children from different cultural backgrounds. In 2015 we developed My View, a specialist mental health service for refugee children and young people who arrive in the UK on their own.
Many of the children and young people we help have suffered traumatic experiences, unimaginable to most. They have witnessed the death, abduction or torture of parents or other relatives. They have been the victims of torture, violence, abuse or trafficking. Understandably, they have overwhelming feelings of loss, separation or survivor’s guilt.
My View takes as its starting point that the children we support have extremely distressing but normal responses to the traumas they have faced. What’s more, despite their young age, they have also shown huge resilience in surviving their past experiences. We aim to help these children harness their extraordinary strength.
My View: What we do
Many of the children referred to our service are offered therapeutic support, either in one-to-one or group settings. We help young people work towards managing symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive thoughts and anxiety.
Our therapists come from a range of different backgrounds and are able to adapt to each individual’s needs, offering sessions based on art, dance, drama, music, play and talking therapy approaches.
For one-to-one therapy, young people are usually offered 12 weekly appointments. These take place within a consistent and confidential framework: each young person has a designated therapist, and the client-led sessions are held at the same time every week within a dedicated room.
Alternatively, young people can attend a therapeutic group, where they can explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive space. Group members are invited to use creative arts approaches in order to process their emotions in action based and non-challenging ways.
In certain cases we offer short-term psychosocial activities, many of which take place during the school summer holidays. For instance, in 2018-19, activities included an outing to Kew Gardens, a one-day equine therapy workshop, and a series of five weekly group gardening sessions at Brockwell Community Garden.
Following therapy during 2020/21:
78%of children reported an improvement in their physical and mental wellbeing
73%said they were able to sleep better
82%reported less feelings of suicide or self-harm
Support our work
You can help unaccompanied children to rebuild their lives in the UK by making a donation or volunteering on one of our projects.