MT-Mentoring path: Building autonomy step by step, Health

Preliminary notes

Due to the sensitivity inherent to this session, Health pillar, the INTEGRA methodology strongly recommends that previous to its implementation, the Leaving Care Professional should:

    • self-assesses if he/she is prepared to do the session, not only regarding knowledge/skills and also if he/she has the necessary psychological and emotional tools to be able to efficiently address the moments of emotional distress, disclosure of difficult experiences, frustration, etc. by the mentee
    • Revises ethical and deontological standards to ensure absolute compliance with them

a.  to be a Leaving Care Professional is not the same as to be a health professional – limit your action to the role to the process of mentoring and guiding;

b.  Limit unnecessary curiosity and intrusiveness – this activity is not an assessment of health status. It is an activity of mentoring in relation to health – all sharing is, at all times, defined by the mentee;

    • selects a set relevant sources (e.g., scientific databases, technical experts) to use/to ask for help in case of necessity of better information/clarification/explanation of information regarding the mentee’s health;

a.  This set of sources might need to be enhanced/updated during the development of the activity;

b..It is essential to include in this set health structures, associations, technical and scientific experts that can be asked to give information/support in a limited period of time (accordingly to the specific needs – and its related urgency – of the mentee);

    • identifies existent structures/NGO mentee can turn to in case of physical and/or psychological urgent needs;

a.  It is necessary to verify that the selected organizations actually can provide efficient and quick support, if needed;

    • meets the mentee and explains the main contents for the session and, together, both decide if they wish to do it or if an alternative option is more adjusted to mentees needs, interest and expectations.

Each mentoring path is singular, and this is part of its richness. Therefore, no structured mandatory activities will be suggested for the 9 sessions of mentoring. Instead we propose to give suggestions for LCP and mentee to consider and to implement, with the flexibility and adaptation that are needed.

For this meeting, the suggestion is for the LCP to focus on discussing:

Part A

    • Review of the previous session’s experiences – major positive elements, what needs change/improvement, emotional state of mind during and after the sessions,
    • Help develop a doable action plan and support its implementation (regarding the topics addressed so far): give support on identification of objectives, signalization of initiatives/actions, definition of major steps to accomplish objectives, definition of monitoring strategies.
    • Provide constructive feedback
    • Identify strengths and achievements and explore options
    • Coach on specific areas of difficulty/needs if need
    • Create opportunities for mentees to gain experience

Part B

  • Health

a.  Brief Health history

i.  major difficulties/problems during the life path

ii.  positive dimensions/events regarding health

iii.  positive/helpful people/organizations

iv.  the relationship between physical and mental health

b.  Health today:

i.  major difficulties/problems during the life path

ii.  positive dimensions/events regarding health

iii.  positive/helpful people/organizations

c.  Goals, wishes, fears and expectations regarding Health

Building trust

a.      Going deep in “Getting to Know Each Other”

i.     Ensure empathy and positive interaction

ii.     Be predictable and consistent

iii.     Ensure confidentiality

iv.     Anticipate mistrust and suspicion

v.     Recognize frustration

vi.     Be open minded!

b.      Develop a constructive relationship

i.     Give time to know each other

1.    Establish Boundaries

a.      Physical

b.      Emotional and psychological

c.       Social

d.      Other (e.g., spiritual)

2.      Be flexible!

3.      Be curious and interested – but not intrusive!

ii.     Be trustful and honest

1.      Be assertive

2.      Ensure transparency ion your perspective and actions

iii.     Spend time together – have fun!

1.      Plan activities together

2.      Do activities together

3.      Monitor and assess activities together


    1. “Physical health”: let’s see what my body is telling me

Justification: It is essential that mentee understands different manifestations/symptoms of physical distress and disease to be able to efficiently address them, and if needed to require help.

This activity starts with a brief relaxation exercise (the LCP can use a derivation of Jacobson’s method or a more imaginative exercise accordingly to the preferences of the mentee and his/her own experience). After recognizing different parts of the body and where the tension tends to accumulate more, mentee is asked to identify his/her most important psychical health difficulties and problems. Those are systematized in a sheet of paper and for them (as a whole or in groups of difficulties/problems) a simple and doable action plan is made (for example, instead of watching 2h TV I will go, every day, for a 30’ walking in the neighbourhood – I will do a mindful walking!”).

    1. “Psychological health: How to promote it?”

Justification: Psychologic health is a delicate topic for many children ageing out of care system. Even if manifestations/symptoms do occur (e.g., insomnia, aggressive behaviour) they are not recognized and/or efficiently addressed. This activity will help recognize the need for actively promoting psychological health. To do so, we propose a moment for confidence and sharing of stress, difficulties, fears, and frustration in life. From this discussion the LCP will have the opportunity to support the development of positive lifestyle measures to enhance psychological health. Information regarding formal help must be provided and it is essential that myths, misbeliefs and wrong ideas around the topic of health and when needed care are deconstructed during this discussion.

    1. “Social health: Am I socially healthy? – Interrogative discussion”

Justification: To actively reflect on the importance of having a positive and active social health is essential to promote a healthy lifestyle. To do so, we propose the LCP focus in an interrogative Socratic style[1], helping the mentee understand by himself/herself the importance of ensuring and adequate social health life style (“what do you think social heath is? Do you think it is relevant? Why?”).

Final tips:

  1. If needed, a fourth activity should be included. This activity should focus on how all health dimensions need to be kept in balance
  2.  efficient and quick support (psychological, emotional, physical) if the mentee manifests its need and/or if any symptoms of acute/extreme distress emerge during the previous activities.