Teenage boy helping nursery boy read
Teenager mentoring nursery childImage by: Growing 2gether
Teenage boy helping nursery boy read
3 May 2023

Movember funding to scale up nursery mentoring project for teen boys in Scotland

3 minutes read time

Thanks to our awesome Movember community, more teenage boys in Scotland are being offered the chance to take part in a project that supports their mental health and gives them life skills needed to achieve their full potential.

Growing 2gether

Growing2gether is a nursery mentoring programme that pairs young people aged between 13 and 16 with toddlers, once a week, over an 18-week period.

The experience of mentoring a younger child has been shown to build psychological resilience, confidence and self-esteem of the teens taking part in the scheme, which is run in partnership with local authorities, schools, and nurseries.

Since January 2017, the Growing2gether charity has successfully delivered the programme to over 1,400 children and young people across the Highland region of Scotland.

A report evaluating the project showed that levels of anxiety and depression in the teens taking part significantly improved by the end of the programme, suggesting that Growing2gether has made a positive impact on young people’s mental health.

Growing2gether suggests that although more girls than boys have taken part in the project to date, the impact is more marked in teenage boys.

Previous research has suggested that males do not usually respond as well to mental wellbeing interventions compared to girls. However, Growing2gether has a more positive effect on boys who showed a greater improvement (35%) compared to girls (18%) with regards to mental health. This may suggest that there is something specifically in the intervention that resonates with boys.

Tom, one of the boys who took part in the Growing2gether, wanted to learn how to be able to speak up instead of avoiding it. He says:

" The combination of having new opportunities to speak and to discover I was a good communicator gave me a huge boost to my self-belief. By the end, I felt a lot happier about things generally. "

Suicide rates in Scotland

In Scotland, three out of four suicides are men and for the third consecutive year suicide in males, aged 15-24 has increased. Highland has the fourth highest incidence of suicide in men in the country.

Diana Whitmore, Executive Director and founder of Growing2gether, says:

“We want to develop our Growing2gether mentoring programme to support more teenage boys facing disadvantage across Highland, Dundee and Aberdeen.

“There is a gap for an early intervention delivered in a small group to support the mental health and wellbeing of teen boys, who often struggle to express their feelings, leading to risky behaviours such as drugs, crime, and suicide.

“The positive experience of mentoring a child in a nursery will increase the boys’ mental health, improve their relationships and give them the social skills they need to achieve their unique potential.”

Movember's Funding

Funding through Movember’s £5.7m Scaling What Works grant funding programme will be used to expand the project so that more boys will be able to access the programme.

Rhiannon Watt, programs manager, community & workplace, at Movember, says:

“Around 50% of mental health issues start before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 24. So, there is an urgent need to equip young people with the skills to cope with life’s setbacks and build their resilience. We’re delighted to be working with Growing2gether to help make this evidence-based programme available to more young people and ensure they receive the support they need.”

Diana says:

“We are excited about the partnership with Movember and pleased to work together to increase awareness of the mental health needs of boys and how Growing2gether makes a difference.”