When I read “A quarter to half of all adult mental illness may be preventable with appropriate interventions in childhood and adolescence” from the Essex County Council website, I knew from firsthand experience how true this is. 

Working at Future Youth Zone, in the borough Dagenham that borders Essex, I see every day the huge positive impacts youth work has on the mental health of young people. We’re a youth charity that transforms the lives of young people through youth work; teaching them new skills, giving them opportunities, and helping them thrive in all areas of life. 

While working here I have been able to report to funders that the projects they invest in have been able to improve young people’s confidence by 40%, increase wellbeing by over 20%, and drive attendances to over 1,000 a week. As we come to the end of the financial year, we’ve been celebrating what huge impacts we’ve made for the community. 

Approximately 150,000 residents in Essex suffer from a mental health condition. I’m so proud that Future has been open for almost 5 years now, working directly with young people from Essex to ensure that that huge number of suffering people falls. The idea that “young people are the future” is a bit cliche but remains true and demands a better solution to the complex issues we now see young people face today with the rise of social media and cost of living crisis. 

Future’s solution is simple and effective. All it takes is somewhere to go outside of school hours, someone trusted to talk to, and something engaging to do. Thank you to everyone who helps us make a difference.