Where we're heading. What we're doing. What we've done.
Welcome to our projects page, here you can find out a little more about our future plans, what we're currently doing and previous work we've been a part of.
We've co-created a range of strengths-based resources for the youth homeless sector
We're incredibly proud of our 6+ years of working with St Basils and building My Strengths Training for Life
We recently announced our new collaboration with digital start-up company Get Ahead Mindset
We're very excited to begin our sport and neurodiversity project
We're looking forward to continuing our research into athlete mental health
Find out how we can prevent youth homelessness by improving family relations
Learn about how we can support young people to successfully transition out of care
Our most recent project has been the co-creation of strengths-based resources for the youth homeless sector. Below you can find a summary of our progress so far, with more information on our toolkit page.
Our Mental Skills Training Toolkit (#MSTtoolkit) has been designed with and for those working in the youth homeless sector. Building from the content included in the MST4Life programme, the toolkit includes activities which are designed to support young people recognise and develop their mental skills, such as: goal-setting, coping strategies, resilience and support seeking.
When producing the toolkit, we pitched an initial prototype of the MST toolkit to a wider audience of 60+ people from the homeless sector, including front-line staff and policymakers. We also sought the opinions of young people experiencing homelessness.
Feedback from staff and young people underscored the importance of producing a toolkit that included tips and techniques to encourage conversation and ensure the resources were completed collaboratively
Furthermore, attendees of the toolkit launch event also highlighted the importance of providing staff with guidance on how to use the tools; for example, being emotionally safe and psychologically informed.
This let to the development of a second resource: a guide to delivering the toolkit in a psychologically informed way. Here staff can find strategies to foster feels of autonomy, competence and relatedness, as well as, techniques and tools from solution-focused brief therapy.
And, of course, it wouldn't be a trilogy without our third and final resource!
We've worked on a resource to assist commissioners who may be wishing to implement a training programme in their service. This includes strategies for planning and evaluating a programme, building from our own first-hand experience and evidence-based frameworks.
MY STRENGTHS TRAINING FOR LIFE (MST4LIFE)
All young people have the capacity for growth and personal development. My Strengths Training for Life (MST4Life) uses a distinctly strengths-based approach informed by clinical and sports psychology to support young people to achieve their goals.
The MST4Life programme has become a central component of a large housing provider's support and wellbeing offer to young people. Those who are currently NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) are particularly encouraged to take part in the programme.
MST4Life uses similar techniques to those used by sports coaches to help young people establish aspirations, set goals and utilise support networks to develop confidence, teamwork, problem-solving, and a range of other mental skills. All this is aimed at helping residents, many of whom have complex needs and are at risk of isolation, social disadvantage and poor mental health.
Just as successful sportsmen and women develop their mental skills to reach new heights in their sport, the programme helps young people develop the mental skills to navigate the job market, build healthy relationships, and manage their mental health.
Read the MST4Life impact case here.
The MST4Life programme includes 4 key stages. First, each programme starts with a stakeholder consultation to understand the specific needs of the young people and staff at a particular project better. From here, the main programme consists of two phases: 10 life skills workshops and a 4-day residential trip to an outdoors pursuit centre (see below for more detail). Finally, each programme is concluded with a follow-up meeting to receive feedback and see how the young people are progressing in the lives (2-3 months after phase 2).
In Phase 1 of the MST4Life programme, participants engage in 10 experientially-oriented sessions informed by both sports and clinical psychology.
These sessions are designed to be fun, allow participants to engage in a variety of ways, and focus on developing an awareness and practice of mental skills.
After Phase 1 of their MST4Life training programme, participants have an opportunity to attend a four-day residential in the Lake District
Alongside a range of outdoor adventure activities, participants take on a challenging hike in the mountains, putting their physical and mental skills to the test
MOVING INTO DIGITAL APPLICATIONS
We are excited to expand the reach and impact of our MST Toolkits and My Strengths Training for Life™ by translating them into the digital space. Below you can find an overview of our ongoing collaborative work and links to associated resources.
get ahead mindset
We recently announced our partnership with digital application start-up company Get Ahead Mindset.
This collaboration will focus on the creation of a new on-demand, evidence-based sport psychology smartphone app. The app will be aimed at individuals who take part in sport and exercise at all levels, and will place a focus on the implementation of digital mental skills training.
Find out more about our partnership with Get Ahead Mindset by reading our announcement blog here.
The team at Get Ahead Mindset have been working hard behind the scenes to integrate components of our MST Toolkits at the heart of the app. Check out Get Ahead's website here, where you can find out more about the team and their work.
We will soon be completing an early evaluation of the Getahead app. Watch this space to find out how you can get involved!
During the COVID-19 pandemic we worked with award winning sport-for-change charity Street Soccer and youth homelessness charity St Basils to integrate our My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™) into a smartphone app called matchFit.
The matchFit app was aimed at young people experiencing homelessness in the UK at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through our partnership with Street Soccer and St Basils, we were able to find out how best to train mental skills via an app, and share our findings with other community-focused organisations.
Our key findings related to the importance of co-creation, app design and content considerations when translating MST4Life™ to the digital space. In addition, digital poverty and safeguarding concerns were highlighted as key factors to consider when creating mental health focused apps with those experiencing homelessness.
Tap on the PDF icon to download our report on the creation of the matchFit app and associated community organisation knowledge sharing events.
SPORT & NEURODIVERSITY
Our upcoming sport and neurodiversity project will focus on research with neurodiverse communities who participate in sport at varying levels. We are excited to begin this much needed work which will seek to promote not only awareness and understanding in sport, but also inclusivity, diversity and equity.
Below you can find links to our recent blog posts on ADHD and sport. We look forward to sharing more information on our sport and neurodiversity project in the future!
What every coach needs to know about ADHD & athletes
Tap on the picture to learn about sport coaching and ADHD.
How can you support the mental health and performance of athletes with ADHD?
Tap on the picture to learn about ADHD, sport and mental health.
What do you need to know about ADHD medication and sport?
Tap on the picture to learn about ADHD medication and sport.
SPORT & MENTAL HEALTH
Athletes are not immune to experiencing mental health issues and they require support to flourish within both their sporting and wider lives. On this page, you can find a summary of our research on sport and mental health and linked resources. The research provides a novel insight into the complexity of athlete mental health.
Watch this space for further updates relating to this important work!
TRANSITIONS AND challEnges
Transitioning into professional sport can pose both challenges and opportunities for athletes.
We have previously examined the process of transitioning into professional tennis. Within this work, athletes were interviewed to explore their personal experiences. You can read an academic paper about this work here. We have also written a blog post summarising mental health in professional tennis. You can read this here.
In addition, we were recently invited to take part in a BBC radio 4 documentary about this. Access this and read an associated blog post here.
Research suggests that athletes may not engage with help-seeking for mental health concerns.
We have recently conducted research exploring what is currently known about athletes’ perspectives on help-seeking for mental health. Here, we used a novel method of patient participant involvement (PPI) and conducted a synthesis of available research evidence.
Read a blog post about a protocol that we published in relation to this work here.
RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS
The sporting environment can present different risk and protective factors for athletes' mental health and well-being.
What do we know about athlete’s experience of mental illness and well-being? How can we promote optimal mental health in athletes and reduce risk for experiencing difficulties?
These are just some of the questions that our current research aims to answer.
A key area this research focuses on is emotion regulation—the ability to manage our emotions in the moment through the use of various strategies. Read our recent academic paper on this topic here.
PARENTING YOUNG PEOPLE
The leading cause of youth homelessness is family breakdown. By helping parents improve relationships in their family, it is possible that many instances of youth homelessness could be prevented.
In collaboration with a local youth homelessness charity, we have developed, delivered and evaluated programmes for parents of adolescents and young adults.
Parents are helped to explore ways to improve relationships, communication skills, and learn about the psychology of adults and young people.
These interactive workshops, developed in collaboration with parents themselves, have been delivered to parents in local communities, as well as employees in NHS hospitals.
IMPROVING PATHWAYS FOR CHILDREN LEAVING CARE
Children leaving care are at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers, which particularly affects those who have multiple support needs, such as having mental ill-health, learning disabilities, or experiences in the criminal justice system.
In an effort to improve existing provision for children leaving care services, the Local Government Association (LGA) commissioned us to evaluate the outcomes and processes of a new housing pathway for care leavers with multiple and complex needs
Five young people accepted a placement at a youth homeless housing project, which included support provided by the homelessness charity, such as employability and life skills training, and an opportunity to complete the MST4Life programme.
Findings and recommendations from the project, including a literature review on what factors influence care leaver outcomes, are intended to help local governments make informed decisions to ensure leaving care services are effective and cost-effective.