Off The Record (OTR) North Somerset has launched a Self-Help Space to enable young people to explore their thoughts and feelings in a 3D virtual world.
We, along with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, are partners with OTR, which is a mental health social movement by young people, for young people.
Self-Help Space is an interactive platform available on OTR's North Somerset site which gives young people the opportunity to reflect on difficult thoughts and feelings and find solutions.
It has been built using 3D gaming technology and aims to help young people improve their wellbeing and resilience by developing their social and emotional skills.
OTR also runs a similar platform on its Bristol and South Gloucestershire site called ProReal which has been hugely popular and has helped the charity to reach more young people.
Sammi Drake, from OTR, said: “One of the benefits of these programs is that they've helped us reach a different demographic of young people. Not everyone feels comfortable going along to a one-to-one therapies session, sitting down with a therapist they've never met before and putting into words what they're experiencing.
“The options of ProReal and Self-Help Space mean that young people can express themselves and their feelings in a way that may feel easier - through non-verbal means, instead creating a visual representation of the problems they're facing and working through them that way.
“Therapists have given feedback that ProReal in Bristol and South Gloucestershire has been particularly popular with young men, and also effective for neurodiverse young people - such as those on the autistic spectrum - so it's helped open up our one-to-one services to those who we're perhaps not seeing come through our doors as much as others.”
Self-Help Space is not supervised by OTR staff, so young do not need to wait to be allocated a therapist - they can start using the software straight away.
Sammi added: “They can also use it independently and really take control of their own wellbeing. I think it's quite a radical way of providing mental health support.”
OTR launched in North Somerset last summer and has made contact with more than 5,335 young people so far.
The expansion into North Somerset was commissioned by Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group as part of the Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP) contract - a wider system of support offered via AWP and Sirona care & health.
Lorraine McMullen, Associate Director of Children’s Services at Sirona care & health, said: “Access to mental health support for young people is a national challenge post Covid and we know how well this service is used in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
“I am delighted to support the expansion of this service for our North Somerset young people and enable them to access the support they want, where they live.”
OTR North Somerset’s provision includes:
- Resilience Lab - sessions exploring how to cope with stress, stay relaxed, discover strengths, reach out to others and keep on top of things when life gets tough.
- Mind Aid - group workshop for those struggling with difficult feelings related to stress, anxiety, low mood, or depression.
- Self-help Space - an innovative virtual environment built using 3D gaming technology to identify, communicate and reflect on difficult thoughts and feelings, and then find solutions.
- And one-to-one therapy.
OTR is also working in schools and colleges around North Somerset. This includes evidence-based therapeutic work, assemblies, one-to-one sessions, group work and workshops to give young people tools and strategies to look after their own wellbeing.
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