Man Cave: supporting mental health in lockdown

Our Man Cave programme, which runs in local primary and secondary schools, working one-on-one and in small groups to support boys and young men with positive mental health, was brought to a halt when schools closed.

It was clear from the outset that the lockdown was going to impact greatly upon children and young people, particularly those already vulnerable to negative thoughts and feelings of isolation, abandonment and hopelessness. We therefore worked with West London Zone, who funds this project, to re-design delivery so this programme could run safely and securely online, ensuring that we kept in contact with those who needed us most during those difficult few months.

Online delivery brought its own challenges, not least adapting to the technology, but also practical issues such as many of the boys not having a quiet space at home to talk privately with our mentor, meaning the nature of the conversations changed. But for some of the boys, their weekly chat with our mentor was their only conversation all week with an adult outside the family unit, and the change of format brought new elements to the conversations and support offered.

The adaptation of this programme has been a huge success, with our mentor delivering more than 24 hours of online mentoring support each week. Despite the lockdown, we’ve also been able to launch a girls’ version of this programme, starting with a group of girls from Westminster Academy.

From September the programme will resume in four local schools (half of what we were delivering pre-lockdown), but considering the limitations on outside visitors which will be in place across schools, we think this is a good start. It will also be a great way to support the mental health of children and young people after a very difficult summer.

24th August 2020