Youth Fed Case Study: Mark

Some of the young people who access Youth Fed‘s Mental Health Support have experienced trauma throughout their childhoods, often with significant traumatic events in early childhood.

Such young people may be experiencing high levels of instability and are struggling to cope with everyday life. Often significant mental and physical health needs have not been met, and when they access support from Youth Fed they may be not engaged in education, training, or employment when they approach us. Young people regularly feel that they are not in control of their lives and feel helpless in making any changes to their situation. This may manifest itself in young people presenting with challenging, chaotic, and seemingly self-destructive behaviour and self-harm. They can often find it difficult to manage their emotions. Youth Fed’s young person-centred holistic, flexible, and informal approach helps to positively engage with those struggling most.


We work hard to develop a sense of trust. Initially, this involves a significant amount of practical support often beginning with a conversation on things that can help keep children and young people mentally well. Once they are able to better manage their mental health and have developed trust in adults supporting them, we find they begin to feel more control in their lives and are more able to make positive
steps towards recovery and moving forward. Working with people who have experienced trauma is tough – the staff team are young person-centred and young people tell us they feel well supported and that staff really care. We have weekly reflective case meetings and monthly clinical supervision. They also get to know the staff team through positive psychology activities too and the relationships formed between staff and young people are central to their positive outcomes.

A teenager wearing headphones around on his neck sitting on a sofa in an office. He is having a conversation with an older woman sat opposite. The teenager is receiving support with his mental health

Mark shares his inspirational story of how he was supported to navigate, overcome,and recover from adversity:

Hi everyone, I’m a young person who has benefited greatly from the Youth Fed’s fantastic support. This is my journey and message of hope.

I met Youth Fed through an empathetic member at the job centre as I was trying to receive support for my brother who was suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. They put me in touch with Bec from the New Futures program who signposted me for mental health support.

What was good about the mental health support was it felt like a safe place to go and talk (eventually). I’d been on waiting lists since I was 16/17 so to access this so quickly was good. I think I needed attention (I was lonely) I needed to be listened to, especially in terms of my past trauma and the non-judgmental approach was more than helpful because I felt believed. The charity didn’t give me a time frame on how long I could receive support and said they’d be here for me for as long as I needed. This was important to me.

I feel like I wouldn’t have even had the support from NHS as their waiting times are too long. I didn’t have any supportive friends and my parents lacked insight into mental illhealth so I really needed my voice to be heard and it was. The support helped me to manage change, find me (the real me) and deal with thoughts that were and sometimes still are unkind.

My life now is different, I work as a Youth Worker now supporting young people who are struggling as I once did, I’m in a long term relationship and I feel my life has a purpose, and meaning and I am hopeful for a positive future.

Supporting Young People who have Experienced Trauma

In supporting young people who have experienced trauma the need for self-care is paramount as it is tough working with young people who have experienced trauma. Good training, supervision and reflective practice are essential. Building positive relationships with young people can take time. It is important to be mindful that you are working with people who may have learned it is safer not to trust people and it can take time for them to believe that you are worthy of their trust and multiagency working from the beginning is essential.


Many individuals who have struggled and then thrived after childhoods fraught with trauma report having a renewed sense of appreciation of life and a stronger sense of their own personal strength following support from Youth Fed. Mark’s remarkable journey is an example of resilience and recovery and his story
brings hope that with the right support and trauma-tailored interventions, the ability to heal and grow from adversity is boundless.

Previous case studies from YouthFed have shared how other young people have been supported with their mental health issues. If you would like to find out more about Youth Fed’s Mental Health Services, please email: emma.ward@youthfed.org or visit: youthfed.org.uk

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YouthFed is a youth charity that supports young people between the ages of 10 and 29, helping to improve their lives. Their vision is to help create a society where all young people are able to achieve their full potential. They shared Mark's story with us.

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