Young people told Merseyside Youth Association's RAISE Team they wished their friends knew how to support them if they were struggling with their emotional wellbeing.

Working in collaboration with Liverpool CAMHS Partners and young people, the RAISE Team developed 'TOTEM', an interactive, award-winning peer mentoring offer for secondary schools focusing on mental health.

What is TOTEM?

Designed and developed by young people for young people, 'Talking Openly To Embrace Mental Health' (TOTEM)' gives them the skills to become confident peer mentors with a specific focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing; empowering them to champion mental health and tackle stigma within their school or organisation.

This peer mentor course focuses on mental health- specifically, it enables young people to recognise the signs and symptoms, understand what mental health is, build resilience and teach them how to have a conversation with someone who is struggling with their mental health.

What age groups is TOTEM aimed at?

TOTEM can be delivered to any year group, but typically, schools select pupils from Years Nine onwards so they can support the lower age groups. You can choose a cohort of up to 20 young people, which can be from one particular year group or a mix across the year groups.

What happens after the course?

After completing TOTEM, these young people - the Peer Mentors, effectively become the "Mental Health Champions" within their school, planning, developing and implementing activities to smash stigma, such as assemblies, lunchtime clubs, awareness-raising sessions etc.

What TOTEM students say:

"TOTEM was an extremely useful course that helped me understand the ins and outs of mental health and how to help tackle it. It was delivered in a thoughtful and professional manner and deeply improved my understanding of the need to be self aware and reflective of one's emotional well-being.

Totem taught me all the essential skills needed to be a good peer mentor and I found the initial self-reflection portion of the course to be interesting and exciting with debates on topics engaging me and the other students.

Overall, this training has allowed me to be a fully informed and motivated peer mentor and I feel all students should have access to a course like this." Year 12 Student.

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