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Children’s Mental Health Week: UKSA reports 32 percent of FE students take up mental health support

Children’s Mental Health Week: UKSA reports 32 percent of FE students take up mental health support

Ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 Feb 2023), UKSA is reporting nearly a third of its further education students have required mental health support from the Isle of Wight based charity since starting their courses in September 2022.

The charity, which has dedicated welfare officers and provides mental health first aid training to other organisations, has supported 23 students out of 73 on a 1-2-1 basis at its Cowes headquarters and has collaborated with 11 different external agencies since the start of the academic year to ensure each young person has received the best support for their needs. 

As a provider of life-enhancing water-based adventures, education and world-leading maritime training for careers at sea for over 35 years, UKSA has a large focus on seeking to improve the mental health of young people. It has further cemented its commitment to the cause with an approach which positions its students’ wellbeing on a par with achieving their qualifications.

Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA said:

“Now, more than ever, it’s vital for young people to have access to support when they need it. The commitment we have demonstrated in prioritising mental health among our own team, visitors and students shows the importance that we place on their mental wellbeing while they’re at UKSA. We don’t just focus on the hard skills needed to pass qualifications, developing life skills is a core part of UKSA’s purpose along with building confidence and resilience. We are fortunate to have the support of The Seafarers’ Charity which funds two welfare positions within our team and provides crucial pastoral support to our young people.

Kim Fry, UKSA Safeguarding and Welfare Manager said:

“We have now trained 29 staff at UKSA as Mental Health First Aiders and deliver Mental Health Awareness Training for Seafarers to all of our students on careers courses. The number of young people seeking support at UKSA has increased but we are confident that the support on offer and our more formal Mental Health and Wellbeing framework within our training, has put UKSA in the best position to support anyone who needs it. By offering dedicated welfare officers and having so many Mental Health First Aiders on site, we ensure everyone feels comfortable to approach those who are able to help.”

In 2022, UKSA appointed British yachtswoman Dee Caffari MBE as its first Youth and Mental Health Ambassador in a newly created role to raise awareness and find solutions to help young people whole mental health has been affected by falling below the poverty line, having less time outdoors, school closures and reduced employment prospects.

Last year, the charity launched a mental health first aid course which all Isle of Wight businesses and employees can benefit from and was nominated at the IW Chamber Business Awards. 

UKSA offers young people of all abilities activities where they can learn skills for life in an aspirational and safe environment. Its bespoke programmes are designed to build confidence and encourage teamwork using watersports and the great outdoors as a catalyst for positive outcomes. Its funded Sea.Change Foundation Programme is specifically designed for 14-17 year olds and gives teenagers the opportunity to learn about training and careers in the maritime sector through a five-day residential trip in the school holidays. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are also offered the opportunity to build crucial life skills and make new friends through the programme.

For more information on UKSA please visit

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