The Y2YMH project was created to provide support to students from a school in which there were 3 cases of suicide, more than 30 cases of self-harm behaviour, and a widespread difficulty in engaging in learning. The main objective was to empower youth through structured conversation circles focused on developing coping skills, using the same evidence-based concepts of the programs ASEC since 2004.
Y2YMH is based on 3 pillars: TRAIN, DEVELOP, and MONITOR (for support). The TRAIN phase focuses on expanding youth’s coping strategies to deal with difficulties in a positive way. It aims to increase their “individual repertoire” so that they have many different alternatives, improving their ability to choose good solutions when facing unpleasant feelings. The DEVELOP phase starts when young people are already trained and motivated to promote conversation circles and develop the methodology with their peers. The aim of this phase is to expand the tool box of positive strategies of young people and enhance their own ability to deal with difficulties by sharing and mediating within the principles of peer education. MONITOR for support is an effective short-term mentoring phase with ASEC facilitators in which young people can identify and create an expanded support (psychosocial) network that can include friends, family, community members and service professionals.
The project was first implemented in 2017 with a small group of 10th to 12th grade students from a school of 1,000 students. In 2020, the project was expanded to six other groups of young people who did not attend that school but were part of the UNICEF - Amazon Region network. Due to the pandemic, we had to create strategies to deliver virtual meetings. Forty meetings are already scheduled, with UNICEF’s support, to benefit 1,000 young people from vulnerable territories in the Brazilian Southeast Region. Each young person is motivated to impact at least 3 other young people in 2021, with a potential impact on 3,000 people. The project can gain scale once this first virtual experience with 1,000 young people is consolidated and academically assessed.
Get in touch with ASEC and we will be able to share our experience with you. There will be groups exploring ways to embrace youth diversity in a universal way. Just like the mental health promotion methodologies ASEC has been implementing since 2004, the Y2YMH project is for any young person from Brazil or from any other country in the world who wants to engage and practice with their peers.