Tackling social anxiety, selective mutism and self doubt

T overcame his social anxiety, selective mutism and self doubt to become more confident, organised and motivated.

T came to the #Focus5 project as a NEET young person from a referral from City College after he had been withdrawn from an IT course there due to mental health issues and social anxiety. T is autistic with selective mutism who struggled to talk or engage with anyone or anything new.

By working remotely via video call where T could keep his camera off and be in a safe familiar environment, the Key Worker was able to slowly establish a working relationship with him. By engaging in a way that made him feel comfortable, it made it easier for T to build trust with his Key Worker over time. His Key Worker first focussed on T’s goals, hobbies and interests, allowing the Key Worker to get to know him (and thus make better recommendations that are suited to him) and encouraging T to talk about things he is comfortable with in the first instance.

Through defining what his goals were, the Key Worker used the interests of T as a lens to help him understand other concepts. For example, T is a keen tabletop Roleplayer (as is his Key Worker!) so the Key Worker was able to explain the component parts of a CV, defining transferrable skills (multiclassing), personal attributes and personal achievements through how a roleplayer would approach filling out a character sheet. T understood this approach better and created a strong CV with his Key Worker that he knows how to update going forward.

T had a desire to get back into education but was aware of his barriers regarding using public transport and class sizes. T and his Key Worker found the Independent Living Skills course that is run periodically by Young Devon, part time with no more than 8 students per course which he agreed was a perfect course to get him back into education. In order to do this and build his confidence with new professionals, his Key Worker organised and funded one to one mentoring with Young Devon (#Focus5 specialist Partner) to prepare T for his transition on to the course. With T’s interest in history, larping (live action role play) and swordsmanship, his Key Worker arranged for him to have some funded swordfighting lessons with a local HEMA group that he would travel to on the bus with the support of his Young Devon mentor, after planning his route, contingencies and coping strategies with his Key Worker. This helped build his confidence to organise rail trips with friends and family and even plan a trip to a 4 day larping event using 3 trains and a bus!

We are delighted with T's progress on #Focus5. T overcame his social anxiety, selective mutism and self doubt to become more confident, organised and motivated. He went on to the Independent Living Skills course with Young Devon on completion of his time with #Focus5. T rated Focus5 as very good and said the best thing about the project was the regular contact along with the flexibility of what is discussed. He also said that the project was much better than he had expected at the beginning- he had expected to be more formal and rigorously structured and like previous experiences with other organisations (which had been bad experiences for him) and the feedback he gave for how to make the project better was “Have it not end!”