Emma Mander from Great Minds Together discusses the UK’s ground-breaking NHS Autism Peer Education Programme.
Autistic people are statistically more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population, with a worrying 80% of autistic adults expected to endure mental health issues during their lives, a figure that isn’t helped by the lack of understanding and support.
Through our work providing specialist wraparound support to families and children with SEND, we have seen first-hand the impact of the lack of resources, training and support for autistic children and their families.
It is through this experience and understanding that we have developed the first ever National Autism Peer Education Programme, which we are excited to be delivering with the support of NHS – Health Education England.
First national programme for autistic people and their support networks
This is the first ever national programme of its kind specifically designed for autistic people and their support network. It works to upskill people and provide them with knowledge and support from specialists, parents, and other people on the spectrum.
It treats the network as the workforce, and will be available for families, professionals, carers, befrienders, and those living with autism.
Through this innovative new programme, we will help ensure that the mental health of those living with autism is finally made a priority.
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With interactive videos available involving our Peer Educators bringing insight into the lives of others living with autism, our programme is packed with opportunities to both enhance and improve the lives of autism families.
Andy Smith, the founder of Spectrum Gaming, is just one of the incredible individuals working alongside this programme to inspire those in the community. Having built a friendly and accepting community for autistic people with a shared passion for gaming, Andy has already been a role model to so many.
Free mental health education
Helping to support families and friends, our programme aims to provide a level of free education to ensure mental health comes first.
Partners from all walks of life have been called on to deliver information and their expertise through interactive workshops, online training, peer support groups and on-call support, ensuring everyone receives the care they deserve.
Another remarkable individual is Geraldine Hills, who is also working alongside us. As a parent of an autistic young person with additional needs, she talks about emotional resilience and how she managed to turn her experience into a positive one by being there for other parents and carers, something she wished she’d have had at the time.
Our team is looking to expand even more in the future to include another batch of fantastic resources, providing constant fresh content to explore.
This programme truly sets out to bring an innovative level of support like no other, with free education and care for families and professionals, ensuring mental health is at the forefront for autistic people.