Publish date: 3 March 2022

Meet Stacey Herberson, who is helping our young people become more resilient and open up about their mental health

A woman with long blonde hair smiling.

I am the peer education worker within the Be You Team, which is part of the Trailblazer mental health initiative for young people in Northumberland.

Being the only peer mentor in Northumberland means the biggest challenge for me is developing this role into exactly what the team and I want it to look like; I’ve been fully supported by my manager throughout this whole process.

My role involves working within schools, training students from the ages of 10 to 18 to be peer mentors which equips them with knowledge and understanding of how to support their peers who have emerging mental health issues.

I chose this profession as I’m really passionate about the wellbeing of young people and want to provide them with the tools that allow their voices to be heard to help prevent future mental health issues, enabling them to grow into resilient young adults.

The peer mentoring project is a really interesting piece of work which has been co-written with young people attending schools in Northumberland. The schools that have implemented the programme are seeing huge benefits to their students, whether that be the students seeking help or those offering the help.

I have worked with young people on and off for the last six years supporting the trust’s ‘You’re Welcome’ status. You’re Welcome is a set of quality criteria for young people-friendly health services.  It provides a systematic framework to help commissioners and service providers to improve the suitability, accessibility, quality and safety of health services for young people. Most recently I have been working with young people to write the peer mentoring training programme.

Working directly with young people, listening to their ideas and putting it into practice has been the most interesting aspect of the role. Sharing with them how I have used their ideas and put them into practice has been amazing and really empowering for the young people and me.

I was only in post three weeks before Covid hit and the schools closed. When schools were open and allowing visitors, I was able to deliver the training programme face to face as planned. However, when schools were shut, I delivered this virtually which came with a few teething problems but we managed to work around it and the young people showed great resilience when their training was interrupted.

As a person who thrives on social contact, I struggled with the virtual delivery but what I enjoy the most is seeing the positive impact my training has on the young people. Giving them a voice and empowering them to know they are doing an amazing job of supporting their peers and they are actually being listened to.

I love working with young people. It is so rewarding and fulfilling. Seeing the positive impact this training course is having on our young people is fantastic.