News > Settle’s Mental Health Project: Reflections one year on
July 25, 2023

Settle’s Mental Health Project: Reflections one year on

Settle’s Fundraising and Development Officer, Bethan Bates, reflects on the Mental Health Project funded by the Berkeley Foundation, which offers free private therapy for young people on Settle’s programmes

By Bethan Bates

In January 2021, the Berkeley Foundation funded Settle to pilot a mental health project for the young people we support. This was in response to the growing need for targeted mental health support for young people who were struggling to access mainstream mental health services in the wake of the pandemic.

The Mental Health Project provides free private counselling sessions to young people on Settle’s programmes who struggle to access mainstream mental health support. It exists as one of our additional support services, ensuring that the young people we work with have all the tools and support they need to get the most from our Programme.

Each young person who accesses the Project works alongside their Programme Officer, using the UK Counselling Directory together to identify and contact the professional therapist of their choice.

We want to champion each young person’s role in advocating for the support they need.

The ongoing cost of living crisis, alongside the post-pandemic transition, has put an increased mental health pressure on the young people we work with, as they experience increased financial hardships.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced support networks, increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation, which have been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Around one third of the young people we support have expressed being unable to access mainstream mental health services. For many of the young people we have supported, poor mental health has been the biggest barrier to their personal development, and we have seen amazing changes in the young people who have engaged with this project. Over the course of the Project, we were able to support 23 young people through 342 sessions with the therapist of their choice.

“This has been my favourite [experience of therapy] so far because I’ve seen myself grow throughout my sessions and seen that I’m not to blame for everything ... I’m thankful Settle was able to offer me this life changing opportunity.”
“I am really pleased with how my therapy sessions are going and the fact that I am able to do more than 10 sessions now. I have created a bond with my therapist who I was able to choose through Settle. I feel so much better already and much more hopeful for the future.”

Clare Maddison, Interim Head of the Berkeley Foundation, comments:

“This project is a prime example of the impact that can be achieved when young people are able to make their own choices about the support they want and need. Settle’s Mental Health Project listens to young people and lets them choose what’s right for them.”

We have secured funding to continue and expand our delivery of the project over the next year, ensuring that every young person we work with who struggles to access mental health support will receive the specialist support they need, with the therapist they choose.

Thank you to the Berkeley Foundation for funding this successful pilot and their support throughout its development.
To keep up to date with how you can best support this project, and our other vital support services and programmes, visit Settle’s website.