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Girl Guides turn their attention to mental health

Following research that almost half of young women aged 17 to 21 in the U.K. have sought help for a mental health issue, Girlguiding has announced a new badge, “Think Resilient,” to give girls positive and practical solutions for mental well-being and resilience.

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Young women will deliver the programme to girls aged seven to 25 following Peer Education training in early April.

Girlguiding’s Peer Educators, who are aged between 14 and 26, already run badges on sensitive topics such as healthy relationships, body confidence, alcohol, smoking, drugs and sex. One of the Educators who has helped develop the “Think Resilient” badge is Lizzie Gardiner, who wrote on the Girlguiding blog about the importance of the new programme.

“Our new resource hopes to equip girls with the mental resilience they need to deal with life’s challenges,” she said. “Through peer education, we can provide a safe but enjoyable way for girls to develop the skills they need to cope in difficult times.

“Mental well-being is not something that is talked about in schools, which makes resources like Think Resilient all the more important,” Gardiner added. “I just wish something like this had been around when I was younger!”

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Gardiner and the eight other Peer Educators were supported by experts at mental health charity YoungMinds to ensure the programme raises awareness of the importance of resilience in times of stress and hardship and uses fun, energetic activities to encourage girls to improve their mental well-being.

“Think Resilience” will also encourage girls to create a network of trusted friends and adults they can turn to if they need support, meaning they can keep looking after their mental health even after the sessions have finished.

Girlguiding listens to girls and we’ve created this inspiring new resource as a direct response to what girls told us they need,” Chief Guide Gill Slocombe told BBC News.

YoungMinds chief executive Sarah Brennan said family breakdown, stress at school, the Internet, body-image issues and early sexualisation were just some of the pressures young people were dealing with today.

“Peer to peer is a really powerful way to educate… and help girls and young women build their emotional strength and resilience,” she said.

Girlguiding’s 2015 Girls’ Attitudes Survey of 1,500 U.K. girls and young women found that 46 percent of girls aged 17 to 21 had sought help with their mental health, 66 percent said mental health was awkward to discuss, 62 percent of girls aged 11 to 21 knew a girl or young woman who had experienced a mental health problem and 82 percent felt adults did not understand the pressures young people faced.

Last August a Children’s Society report found children in England were among the unhappiest in the world.

More: U.K. schools can’t cope with children’s mental health issues

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