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Isle Listen – Because Minds Matter

Wednesday 12 May in Community

Originally set up as a specialist psychological service to support families affected by cancer and other life-changing conditions, MCH Psychological Services (formerly Manx Cancer Help) has been serving the island’s community since 1983 and this expert and vital provision now continues with our sister charitable initiative Minds Matter.

The importance of looking after our mental health has been well documented over the years and, as an organisation, we were aware of the difficulties people can face trying to access the support they need, whether this is for themselves or their children. In 2019, alongside Minds Matter, our early intervention mental health and wellbeing service, Isle Listen, was born. The provision of education, prevention strategies and early intervention were key to the development of Isle Listen, with the hope of avoiding unnecessary escalation of mental health problems and alleviating pressure on statutory services.

Isle Listen underwent a pilot year in 2019 within two secondary schools on the island, QEII and King William’s College, with the aim of gathering information and evidence for the needs of the service moving forward. Within the pilot year, a low-level listening service was provided, as well as assemblies and workshops covering a range of wellbeing topics. Data collected from the pilot year evidenced the need for ongoing support within schools.

Lynsey Christian

Since then, Isle Listen has grown from strength to strength and we are now offering support in five of the island’s secondary schools; QEII, King William’s College, Bemahague, St Ninian’s and Ramsey Grammar School. Through collaborative working with each school, our schools training team offers assemblies on a range of topics specific to the needs of the pupils at any given time. These assemblies are then followed up with more detailed classroom sessions with smaller groups to allow a deeper level of learning and understanding to happen. Since the start of the new school year in September 2020, the schools training team has provided over 73 hours in 67 sessions with 4,769 interactions with pupils, through assembles and classroom-based sessions.

As well as the wider support given by the schools training team, we also offer a dedicated listening service which provides one to one support to those in need. The listening team provides a personalised, confidential, and professional service, offering between 4-6 sessions per young person to work on any specific issue or need they have. Depending on the school, referrals to the Listening service can be made via the individual themselves or through any member of teaching staff.

Each listener is at least level 2 trained, with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in supporting young people. All their work is supervised weekly from a qualified clinical supervisor and they have access to the support and knowledge of a highly skilled therapy team which works within Isle Listen and Minds Matter.

Since its launch, Isle Listen has provided 1,044 one-to-one sessions to 223 students; 644 sessions provided to 108 students during the 2019/2020 academic year (with the main referral category being around social issues) and 400 sessions to 115 students from September 2020 to February half term 2021 with the main referral reason centred on general mental wellbeing. Currently, the majority of referrals received to the listening service are from students in years 7-10; 11-16 years old. Statistics collated from individual sessions using measuring tools such as YP-CORE (corc.uk.net), saw almost a 70% improvement rate in the pilot year of Isle Listen within schools and we are in line to produce even better statistics this academic year.

The wider therapy team consists of Psychotherapists, CBT therapists, Counsellors and Art therapists, who are overseen by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, offering a comprehensive and extensive service to young people who require a higher level of support than our listeners are trained to provide. Once again, this support is confidential and personalised to the specific needs of each individual.

As a charitable initiative, Isle Listen works closely with other 3rd sector and statutory services and onward referral is sometimes required for when an individual requires specialist or a higher level of support than we offer. We are one part of a large, multi-faceted support network on the island and our hope for the future is to continue to build relationships with other 3rd sector and statutory services. The overarching aim is to ensure a timely and systematic early intervention mental health service is available for young people on the island and which will hopefully prevent more complex mental health issues developing later in life.

If you would like more information about the work of Isle Listen or Minds Matter, please visit islelisten.org.im or mindsmatter.org.im

Lynsey Christian, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Isle Listen.

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