Mental skills training in disadvantaged young people

Mental skills such as coping under pressure, regulating emotions and effective goal striving are key to an athlete’s sporting success.  Many athletes develop these skills through deliberate practice known as ‘mental skills training’.  In this project, we turn away from sport by applying a similar approach to disadvantaged youths.  In doing so, we recognise that the mental skills and qualities desired by athletes for success in sport, are not to dissimilar to those required in young people for success in life.

In this research programme (led by Dr Jenn Cumming), we teamed up with one of the UK’s leading youth homeless charities, St Basils, to develop ‘Mental Skills Training for Life’ (#MST4Life), an innovative, 10-week mental skills training programme.  MST4Life comprises a series of experiential learning activities and workshops, which build up to an outdoor adventure residential.

Informed by psychological models such as positive psychology and strength-based CBT, MST4Life promotes the self-discovery and development of mental skills in areas such as self-regulation, interpersonal skills, organisation, utilising social support, and problem solving.  Our programme evaluation has revealed improvements to mental qualities such as self-worth, resilience and well-being, as well as re-engagement with education, employment and training.  We deliver MST4Life to over 100 youths each year alongside continued research and development.

For more information on MST4Life, check out these news articles: