Skip to main content

Meeting us where we're at: Learning from INTEGRATE’s work with excluded young people

The MAC-UK INTEGRATE model was first developed in Camden, 2008, from the founding principle that services need to meet young people where they are at. The lessons learned at that project, Music & Change, have since been replicated and built upon at three subsequent projects, Positive Punch in Camden, RO|OЯ in Southwark and a fourth site (Project Future) in Haringey. The Haringey site is ongoing and this report describes the three completed projects in brief and the lessons and outcomes from their independent evaluations by Centre for Mental Health.

Excluded and vulnerable young people, including those in contact with the criminal justice system, often experience multiple risk factors for poor mental health, exacerbated by services that are experienced as ‘hard-to-reach’, leading to wide health inequalities.

Research consistently demonstrates how people experiencing material, racial and social disadvantage and discrimination face poorer life chances including risks to their mental health and becoming caught in cycles of offending (Pickett & Wilkinson, 2010; Sheppard 2002; Viner, 2012). Limited opportunities and exposure to crime take their toll. Young people who are in contact with the justice system are three times more likely than other young people to have an unmet mental health need (Hagell, 2002), and yet they are less likely to access the right support.

The MAC-UK INTEGRATE approach harnesses the power of young people themselves to be part of the solution. INTEGRATE seeks to wrap holistic and responsive support, including mental health and emotional wellbeing provision, around excluded young people.