Unique cooperation in the neighborhood to provide vulnerable young people with help that meets their needs earlier
Local youth workers go into the neighborhood together with the @ease foundation to help the most vulnerable groups of young people and to gather more knowledge about their situation, problems, wishes and needs. The @ease Foundation is especially for young people between 12 and 25 years old who need a listening ear. Questions and concerns can be discussed through a conversation with peers: always free of charge, anonymously if young people want it and as accessible as possible. The @ease volunteers work directly with professional care providers from local care partners. Prevention of psychological and social problems in adolescents is central.
Better reach vulnerable young people
Many young people and young adults are already visiting @ease. Yet there is a group of young people who are not yet easy to enter. We don't know exactly why. Don't they know @ease? Is the threshold too high? And what can we do to make it easier? That is why @ease is starting this project in which volunteers with local cooperation partners go to these young people (for example in their neighborhood or at their school), with the aim of lowering the threshold and thus reaching even more young people.
Scientific research into the needs of these young people
Sophie Leijdesdorff will be involved as a postdoc researcher from the Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology at Maastricht University. In 2020 she published the first article on @ease data in the international scientific journal “Journal of Mental Health” (Leijdesdorff et al., 2020). Leijdesdorff will receive his PhD on Friday, April 9, on data collected with the help of the @ease young people. The @ease method, the description of the visitors and an interview study in which @ease visitors indicate which barriers and helping factors they have experienced when seeking help are also discussed.
Local collaboration with leading organizations for preventive and outpatient youth work
Everybody @ease will start as a pilot at three locations in the Netherlands. Together with Trajekt in Maastricht, Alcander in Heerlen and LAB6 in Amsterdam, we want to better reach young people in their own environment, before certain complaints escalate. Young people play an active role in the project and contribute to the development of a “best practice” of the outreach @ease methodology.
“As youth workers, we know how important it is to build trust with young people in the neighborhood. Their opinion is essential. They know what is going on at school or in the neighborhood and what they encounter in daily life. Talking to someone when things aren't going well at school or at home is often difficult. They prefer to solve it themselves, but because of this they continue to have problems for too long, causing them to escalate. We need to make it easy for them to find and get help when needed. That is why this collaboration is a great step. We can share our knowledge and experience and help young people in a way they like: anonymously, without a waiting list and for free." Thus spoke Mick Wiertz & Camiel Claasssens, youth workers at Trajekt, Maastricht, Karima Sedki, project manager Youth and Youth Work at Alcander, Heerlen and Christianne Westdijk, remedial educationalist LAB6, Amsterdam
Support through the Geestkracht program of FNO
"Everybody @ease" is made possible with the support of the Geestkracht program of FNO. FNO's GeestKracht program wants every young adult (16-35 years old) to be able to be themselves and to (continue to) participate powerfully in society even with a psychological vulnerability. GeestKracht focuses on preventing the development of psychological problems, limiting their practical consequences and promoting social participation. FNO is working on increasing the chances of more health, quality of life and future prospects, because fragile health should not stand in the way of a full life.
Click here for the link to the livestream of the PhD defence of Sophie Leijdesdorff, with the title “Ain’t no mountain high enough: how to improve access to youth mental health care”, at 9 april 2021 at 14 hours.