Tall Ships Youth Trust, the UK’s largest youth development sail training charity, has launched its Lifeline Appeal to help raise vital funds to tackle dramatic increases in mental health referrals among young people.
Recent NHS research found one in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2021 — equivalent to five pupils in every classroom and a huge increase from one in nine in 2017.
It also showed young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to report feeling often or always lonely. Nearly half of 17 – 19-year-olds with a diagnosed mental disorder had self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point, rising to 52.7 per cent for young women.
With a particular focus on working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, TSYT has been providing young people aged 12 – 25, with transformational experiences at sea for 65 years.
In a typical year the charity takes 1,000 young people to sea and currently operates four 72ft Challenger yacht — famous for having raced twice round the world as part of the Global Challenge races, and a 55ft ketch.
Sue Geary, a longstanding Skipper with the charity, said: “Our residential voyages provide a unique outdoor learning environment where young people are supported by our professionally trained crew to feel safe and have open conversations around mental health.
“Sail training provides the ideal space for promoting positive mental health and recovery for young people. The activities that form the core routines of any sailing voyage exactly match the NHS’ Five Steps to Mental Wellbeing — working physically hard on the water, helping each other and developing positive relationships while learning new skills, having opportunities to rest, reflect and be mindful.”
In 2021, Phoenix* (18), who has an attachment disorder, developmental trauma, autism and mental health issues, experienced their first TSYT voyage.
They said: “The voyage has changed me for the better. The experience has really boosted my confidence and self-esteem, and I have been comfortable doing things I was not before, like socialising for more than 10 minutes.
“No one judges you. It is inclusive not exclusive. I have asked to go back (as a volunteer) and help because I want other young people to get the same experience I did. My story highlights the life-changing work Tall Ships Youth Trust does. Please, help change more lives like mine.”
To find out more and to donate to the Lifeline Appeal visit: https://www.tallships.org/appeal/lifeline-appeal/
* This young person’s name has been changed to protect their identity.