Launched in 2018, the Hummingbird Project is a six-week course that aims to improve mental health in young people. It was developed by MedEquip4Kids in partnership with psychologists at the University of Bolton and is being delivered free of charge in schools throughout Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
The scheme is led by trained staff and volunteers, who present a series of six workshops based on concepts of Positive Psychology to help give young people the techniques and tools to become more emotionally resilient. Topics covered include Mental Health and Stigma, Happiness and Wellbeing, Resilience and Character Strengths, Growth Mindsets, Hope and Gratitude, and Mindfulness. Following the course, each school receives a package of resources to help them put their learning into practice.
Since 2014 MedEquip4Kids has been providing resources such as toys, books, games and communication aids for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It was through working with CAMHS and hearing young people’s stories firsthand that we became aware of the escalating crisis in children’s mental health and the need for preventative action. We decided to offer our very own programme in schools to educate young people about their mental health, with the aim of benefiting the wellbeing of every child in the class, not just those already identified as struggling.
In 2017 we commissioned a research study, which was carried out by Jerome Carson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Bolton on mental health intervention in schools across the North West. The results confirmed that mental health problems were endemic amongst young people in secondary schools, with at least one in ten experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition, and they were not receiving the help they needed. 70% of children and adolescents who experienced mental health problems had not received appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. In the North West of England, 23% of school children did not have an allocated member of staff to whom they could talk to about concerns.
In an average group of thirty 15-year-olds, seven are likely to have been bullied and six may be self-harming. Over a third of teachers had no training on how to deal with pupils’ mental health issues. Young people who struggled with their emotional wellbeing ultimately had poor self-esteem and self-worth. This leads to poor engagement at school and peer level, which ultimately leads to poor attainment levels, taking the problems into their adult lives.
Our project set out to achieve the following outcomes:
Working with the University of Bolton, and with input from young people themselves, we put together an innovative programme of six workshops designed to introduce students to the concepts of Positive Psychology, a field in which Professor Carson is one of the leading experts. We also put together a pack of books, stress toys and games to be delivered to the school on completion of the programme to ensure a lasting impact.
The Hummingbird Project was officially launched by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who said: “There’s a growing call from young people for more support with their own mental health and wellbeing, their own resilience, to navigate what is out there an increasingly challenging world. That’s why the Hummingbird Project is so right, so of the moment. It’s really answering the call coming from young people.”
We chose the Hummingbird as a symbol for our project because it represents the qualities of balance, persistence, resilience, lightness and enjoying the sweetness (nectar) of life.
Impact to date
So far we have delivered the Hummingbird Project to 1,355 students in 17 secondary schools across Greater Manchester and Cheshire, and it has also been piloted in two primary schools in Manchester and Liverpool. The data collected has shown statistically significant improvements in well-being, resilience, and hope, as well as reduction in negative emotions, and reductions in anxiety, depression, trauma, physical problems, functioning and risk to self.
A full report on the findings of the project is available here.
We have also received very positive feedback from the young people involved. Their comments below indicate that the course has given them a better understanding of mental health, their key strengths, and the actions they can take to enjoy happier lives.
“I got to know what my strengths are, and about happiness.”
“I learnt about topics that people usually don’t teach you about.”
“I enjoyed the mindfulness exercises. I learnt a lot about keeping happy. I think that it made me be happy. The project makes you know more about mental health problems and how to avoid them.”
“I enjoyed this Hummingbird Project because I think that it has helped me think twice about what I do and helps me be more grateful for what I do.”
“I learned that I had a lot of character strengths.”
“I learnt many things to think about myself.”
“The best experience ever.”
For more information on the Hummingbird Project workshops, please contact Ghalib Hussein at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0161 798 1600.