The Mentor and Support Program provides services to Young People. The service is between a Mentor and a Young Person for the purpose of reducing risk of harm or problem behaviours and improved personal development. The program seeks to be culturally competent and meet the needs of Aboriginal Young People.
The Mentor and Support Program is about a positive experience for the young person. The appearance of the program is an adventure, recreation and athletics program for Young People. The Mentor is someone who the Young Person can easily connect with and develop a positive relationship and potential attachment.
The program supports the Young Person to develop their own strategies for,
- Support planning and goal setting
- Personal development, risk mitigation, capacity building and coping skills
- Daily living, practical support and crisis management
The Mentor supports the Young Person to reduce their own risk factors, build strengths and equip themselves with knowledge, skills and resources required for a good life.
The objectives of the program are to help Young People reduce risk of harm or problem behaviours toward a good life. Specifically, the program seeks to,
- Assist Young People to identify their own strengths and identify protective factors in their lives
- Empower Young People to build capabilities and protective strengths toward a good life
- Support Young People to identify and reduce risk factors/triggers and implement strategies to reduce the risk of future risk behaviours
The target group for the program are Young People 14-25 years of age who have a diagnosed psychological disorder and/or disability. The Young person may have risk of harm behaviors including substance abuse, offending, transience & homelessness, self-harm and suicide. The Young Person may have,
- Experienced trauma including abuse and/or neglect
- High and complex needs including a lack of receptive and expressive communication skills
- Acute levels of stress and anger management problems
- Low confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem
- Poor resilience and lack focus of attention and effort in a positive direction
The Young people who make up the target group may have low insight into risk behaviour thus increasing their vulnerability.
The Mentor is a case management specialist who has extensive experience working with Young People on statutory orders including justice, child protection and out-of-home care who present with significant risk factors and high-risk behaviours. The Mentor is responsible for the planning, leadership, organisation and control of the Mentor and Support program and implementation of the strategies that will help the Young Person reduce risk of harm or problem behaviours and work toward a good life. The Mentor has the following qualities to best support the Young Person.
- Compassion, kindness and understanding to connect with the Young Person
- Strength and patience to facilitate robust support and focused learning
- Calm to support the Young Person through crisis and ‘tough times’
- Communication skills to help the Young Person mitigate risk and develop capacity
- Commitment and resilience to continue until the Young Person succeeds
The Mentor has a rich and developed understanding of the, plans to be made, risk factors to address, capacities to build, skills to develop, barriers to overcome, problems to deal with, crisis to overcome, beliefs/feelings/attitudes to change, and goals to achieve in order to support the Young Person to overcome risk of harm or problem behaviors.
A team of professionals support the Mentor and work with the Young Person including social worker, psychologist and peer-support work to help the Young Person to transform their negative thoughts, feelings and behaviour. An in-house personal trainer, yoga teacher and nutritionist inspire the Young Person toward good physical and mental health.
A number of engagement strategies are implemented by the Mentor to attract the Young Person to the program and maintain participation including,
- The development of a positive role model relationship based upon empathy and respect.
- The application of adventure, recreation and athletic activities.
- A continued focus upon the positive expectation of a good life.
- Compassionate, warm, and trustworthy Mentors and support workers who care about the Young Person.
The program identifies the Young Person as the chief agent of change, the single most important factor in planning and most influential contributor to a successful outcome. The Young Person is the centre of the program at all times.
The program has a strong emphasis on personal development activities that connect the Young Person to community including sport, the arts and culture. To address unmet need the support plan is developed to increase personal functioning and development. The plan specifically addresses,
- Welfare, accommodation, justice compliance and material aid
- Physical and mental health coordination, substance use management
- Education and employment
- Family and peer connection and inclusion
- Self-esteem and confidence
The development of the plan may include consulting, family, extended kin networks and community members and may include members of local Aboriginal and cultural communities in the planning and implementation of the plan.
The program is concerned with the Young Person’s formulation of personal development goals that equip Young People with knowledge, skills and resources to satisfy life values including,
- Healthy living and functioning – feeling good
- Freedom from emotional turmoil and stress
- Familial, romantic and intimate relationships
- Knowledge and creativity
- Excellence in work and play
The program is based upon a strengths approach that emphasizes the need to build capabilities and strengths.
Young people reducing risk of harm or problem behaviours need to build capabilities and strengths toward personal development. The Mentor supports the young person to develop mental toughness including,
- Confidence to make things happen
- Resilience to push past barriers
- Flexibility and the ability to adapt
- Discipline to maintain routine and effort for compliance
- Focus of attention and effort in a positive direction
A key goal of the program is to help the Young Person develop strategies to overcome risk of harm or problem behaviours, the young person is empowered to develop mental toughness to overcome the future barriers and challenges.
Young People with risk of harm or problem behaviours need to be able to identify risk factors and triggers to risk behaviour and implement strategies to address and reduce the risk of risk behaviours continuing. The Mentor supports the Young Person to modify disempowering personal values, beliefs and attitudes, and build protective factors comprising,
- Anger management and pro-social behaviour
- Social and problem solving skills
- Trauma resolution and stress reduction
- Coping skills for daily stressors and living
- Healthy Mind and Body
Whilst risk mitigation is an essential component to overcome risk of harm or behaviours the Mentor and Support Program is a strengths based approach therefore the focus of the program is to equip the Young Person with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary for personal development.
Young People with risk of harm or behaviours may be living alone, some for the for the first time. Learning how to cope with the stressors of living on top of reducing risk behaviour can be a daunting task. Mentors help the Young Person to develop practical living skills including,
- Financial management including budgeting, banking and bill payment
- Meal preparation and grocery shopping
- Personal and environmental hygiene
- Self-reliance and personal security
- Practical skills for daily living
The Mentor helps the Young Person to develop coping skills for daily living and managing life stressors. The Young Person learns how to manage themselves toward personal development.
Where required the Young Person is empowered to live independently. The Mentor supports the Young Person to interface with organisations including,
- Housing for accommodation
- Health for the treatment of physical complaint and mental illness
- Centrelink for welfare and identification
- Justice for compliance with orders bail and bond
- Non-government organisations for community support
A key indicator that the Young Person has resolved their unmet need is whether they can participate in employment and/or education. The Young Person’s enrollment into an education program and/or gaining employment is a high priority of the program.
Crisis frequently occur for Young People who have risk of harm or problem behaviours and often the crisis has profound effects. Crisis usually comes as a surprise to the Young Person and there is often little time to respond. The Mentor helps the Young Person manage the crisis in a number of ways by supporting the Young Person to,
- Develop crisis management plans and contingencies
- Diffuse and mitigate potential threats
- Deal with threats during the crisis
- Bring the crisis to an end quickly
- Control the crisis and collateral damage
The Mentor supports the Young Person to implement crisis management strategies. If the Young Person does not resolve the crisis the Mentor is able to directly intervene and coordinate emergency and community services, and provide crisis support until the threat has ceased. Once the Young Person has achieved their goals the Mentor maintains contact as required.