A peer-mentoring scheme was implemented in a secondary school using a physical activity (PA) intervention to improve mental health outcomes of students who were at risk of developing mental ill health. These students are referred to as mentees. The evaluation was a qualitative design using focus groups and semi-structured interviews. The participants reported an increase in PA in both peer mentors and mentees. By the end of the project many of the mentees recognised that they had increased their levels of PA, they were more aware of the benefits of PA and the relationship between PA and their mental health. In addition, mentees reported feeling more confident and were more confident in forming social relationships. Peer mentors reported developing many leadership skills during the project. These included improved communication, confidence, empathy for others, relationship building and improved self-awareness. The paper aims to discuss these issues.Design/methodology/approachQualitative data were primarily collected from nine case study schools. Each visit included interviews with peer mentors, mentees and the Wellbeing Champion.FindingsMentees developed improved social confidence and were generally more positive after completing the intervention. Mentors developed leadership skills and greater empathy for their peers.Originality/valueThere is limited research on school-based PA interventions using peer mentoring to improve students’ mental health.
Journal of Public Mental Health – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 21, 2021
Keywords: Mental health; Physical activity; Peer mentoring