An adult mentor sits at a desk with a teen mentee

Mentoring: A Beacon of Hope for Teen Mental Health


As Teen Mental Health Day approaches in March, it’s imperative to shine a light on the challenges faced by adolescents and the critical role that mentoring can play in supporting their mental well-being.

In a world where mental health issues among teens are increasingly prevalent, this day serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering awareness, understanding, and support for young minds navigating turbulent waters.


The Importance Of Recognising Teen Mental Health:

Recognising teen mental health is crucial because it acknowledges the unique struggles and vulnerabilities adolescents face during this transformative stage of life. Adolescence is a period marked by significant physical, emotional, and social changes, making teenagers particularly susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.


Understanding the Factors For Mental Health In Teens:

Numerous factors contribute to poor mental health among teens, including academic pressure, social media influence, family dynamics, bullying, peer pressure, and societal expectations. These stressors can exacerbate feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and hopelessness, leading to a decline in mental well-being.


Statistics on Teen Mental Health:

In the UK, recent statistics paint a concerning picture of teen mental health. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19-year-olds in Great Britain experienced a mental health disorder in 2017.

In Scotland, a survey conducted by Young Scot found that 68% of young people reported feeling stressed about school, exams, and the future. This alone could negatively impact the overall mental health and wellbeing of a young person.

The COVID-19 pandemic further heightened mental health challenges among teens, exacerbating feelings of social isolation, disrupting routines, and increasing uncertainty about the future. It's crucial to provide additional support and resources to address the mental health implications of the pandemic on adolescents.


The Power of Mentoring for Mental Health Improvement:

Mentoring offers a beacon of hope for teens grappling with mental health challenges. At its core, mentoring involves a supportive relationship between a mentor and a mentee, where the mentor provides guidance, encouragement, and empathy.

Mentoring can be introduced in various settings, including schools, community organisations, and online platforms, creating safe spaces for teens to share their struggles and receive personalised support.


How Mentoring Helps Teens:

Mentoring can have a transformative impact on teen mental health by providing:

  • Emotional Support: Mentors offer a listening ear and non-judgmental support, helping teens navigate their emotions and develop coping strategies.
  • Positive Role Modeling: Mentors serve as positive role models, demonstrating resilience, self-care practices, and healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Skill Development: Mentoring fosters the acquisition of life skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making, which are essential for managing stress and building resilience.
  • Resilience Through Mentoring: Mentoring plays a pivotal role in helping teens develop resilience—the ability to bounce back from adversity and cope with life’s challenges. Mentors can incorporate resilience-building activities and strategies into their relationships, empowering teens to navigate difficult circumstances with strength and perseverance.
  • Self-Care and Wellness: Encouraging teens to prioritise self-care practices is essential for maintaining mental well-being. Mentors can provide guidance on incorporating self-care activities into daily routines, such as mindfulness, exercise, creative expression, and connecting with nature.


A Scenario – Looking At Mentoring As A Support For Improving Mental Health:

Imagine Sarah, a 15-year-old student struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues due to bullying at school.

Through a mentoring programme at her school, Sarah is paired with a supportive mentor who listens to her concerns, validates her feelings, and empowers her to develop assertiveness skills and coping strategies.

Over time, Sarahs confidence grows, and she learns to navigate challenging situations with resilience and grace, thanks to the unwavering support of her mentor.

Years later, Sarah signs up to be a mentor, helping those who are going through similar struggles that she experienced.


Exploring Different Types of Mentoring:

Mentoring comes in various forms, each tailored to meet specific needs and objectives.
Here’s just a few options for you to consider:

  • Traditional One-on-One Mentoring: This classic form of mentoring involves a one-on-one relationship between a mentor and a mentee, focusing on personalised guidance, support, and skill development.
    Example: In a school or university setting, traditional one-on-one mentoring pairs a student with an experienced professional who provides academic guidance, career advice, and personal support.
  • Group Mentoring: Group mentoring brings together a small group of mentees with one or more mentors, fostering peer support, collaboration, and collective learning.
    Example: In schools and universities, group mentoring sessions can supplement classroom learning, providing a platform for students to discuss academic challenges, share experiences, and receive guidance from multiple perspectives.
  • Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring involves reciprocal relationships among peers who support and learn from each other, promoting a sense of camaraderie, belonging, and mutual growth.

Example: Peer mentoring programmes in schools and universities pair students with similar interests or experiences to provide academic support, share study tips, and navigate the challenges of adolescence together.

By embracing different types of mentoring, organisations, schools, and communities can create inclusive and impactful mentoring programmes that cater to the diverse needs and
preferences of teens. Whether through traditional one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring,
reverse mentoring, peer mentoring, or virtual mentoring, the power of mentoring to support
teen mental health and foster personal and professional growth is undeniable.


Setting Up A Teen Mentoring Programme:

Setting up a mentoring programme for young people requires careful planning and consideration. Whether in a community group, workplace, or educational institution, key steps include:

  1. Identifying goals and objectives for the mentoring programme.
  2. Recruiting and training mentors who possess the necessary skills and qualities.
  3. Matching mentors and mentees based on compatibility, interests, and needs.
  4. Establishing clear guidelines, expectations, and boundaries for the mentoring relationships.
  5. Providing ongoing support, supervision, and resources for mentors and mentees.
  6. Evaluating the effectiveness of the mentoring programme and making adjustments as needed.

We have further information and guidance on starting a mentoring programme in our resources section.


Addressing Barriers to Access:

Acknowledging and addressing barriers to accessing mentoring and mental health support is critical. Stigma, lack of awareness, and limited resources can prevent teens from seeking help. To overcome these barriers, it’s essential to increase awareness, expand access to mentoring programmes, and destigmatise conversations about mental health.



On Teen Mental Health Day and every day, let us recognise the importance of prioritising the mental well-being of our adolescents. Through mentoring, we can cultivate a culture of support, empathy, and empowerment, ensuring that every teen feels seen, heard, and valued on their journey toward mental wellness.

If you have a success story around mentoring and wellness that you would like to share, or if you are in the process of running or setting up a mentoring programme, we would love to hear from you.