SportExR research contributes to new toolkit from UK's leading independent voice for young people's health

Research from SportExR on improving health and employment outcomes for homeless youth has contributed to the toolkit “Closing the employment gap for young people”; published this month by the Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH).

The AYPH is the UK’s leading independent voice for young people’s health. Their main focus is to improve the health and wellbeing of 10-24 year olds through promoting evidence-based practice, improving access to resources and innovation, and increasing communication between practitioners from different sectors.

Funded by Public Health England, NHS England, and the Department of Health and Social Care, the toolkit was developed to improve understanding about the link between common mental health problems and employment for 16–25 year olds, and to support effective practice by those working with young people experiencing these difficulties, with the ultimate aim of helping these young people to gain and stay in work.

The toolkit provides examples of best practice in promoting employment outcomes for young people with mental health problems, which included the My Strengths Training for Life (MST4Life™) programme. Led by Dr Jennifer Cumming from the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences and Institute for Mental Health, MST4Life™ was developed with charity St Basils to help homeless young people develop their resiliency using psychological techniques similar to those used by elite athletes. 

MST4Life™ improves physical, mental, and social health outcomes in homeless young people who typically experience higher rates of unemployment and mental health problems compared to their peers. Young people also developed mental skills essential for employment, education, or training (EET), and life in general. Subsequently, the long term outcomes show an increase in young people in EET and so these young people are moving towards social inclusion through taking part in MST4Life™.

The toolkit follows on from the involvement of the MST4Life™ research team in the ESRC festival of Social Sciences event last year: a public engagement event to share knowledge and promote discussion around helping young people overcome barriers to work. For a summary of this event, please see this youtube video.

The toolkit, amongst other resources, can be found on AYPH’s website. For more information about the MST4Life™ programme, a case study can be found on the Housing LIN website. Alternatively, please contact Dr Jennifer Cumming: j.cumming@bham.ac.uk.

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  • Dr Jennifer Cumming is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences.   She can be found on Twitter @drjenncumming