Monday 15 April 2024

MindJam Support for young people

MindJam is an organisation I first heard about a few years ago, when our PDA daughter was unable to attend school and was struggling to engage with anyone. She began some weekly sessions playing Minecraft with a mentor and this gave us both some hope for the future. 
Mind jam  Emotional and SEN support for young people through gaming, game design and digital skills.  Through online 121 sessions, MJ provides mentorship and guidance to young people to support their emotional needs and SEN identity through positive, non-judgemental and low – demand sessions.
Dan Clark is the inspiring, hardworking guy behind MindJam. His experience of music and teaching eventually brought him to a point where he realised that there were many children who were better able to connect and learn through technology. I am thrilled to be able to share an interview with Dan that shines a light on this organisation that is helping many families.

What made you decide to create MindJam/how did it all start?!

Being a parent to two autistic children, I have seen first hand the benefits of gaming on how we communicated and bonded as a family. It is a wonderful shared experience that works for us as a neurodivergent family.

As a teacher, I could see how schools were struggling to connect with young people. By not utilising and actively disregarding gaming as a valuable pastime, they were making young people feel that the activity they loved was a waste of time, and were alienating and building a wall against something that is so valuable for connection, communication and understanding.

My children have both struggled with the school environment and this helped me to realise that there were many young people who were feeling lost, confused, traumatised and beaten down by the education and health system. I realised that there was a need to create real connections and trust, to build positivity and self esteem, and saw that this can be achieved through a shared interest in gaming - and this can also lead to all sorts of wonderful, natural learning experiences - game design, art, music, digital skills, story writing, esports, etc.

By harnessing the benefits of digital entertainment/creative platforms, we can support young people with aspects of life they find difficult, in an environment they feel comfortable.

I began MindJam in the pandemic and very quickly it grew through word of mouth in schools, LAs and parent groups. Conscious that I wanted to keep the waiting list as low as possible, so those that need the support can access it, I have continued to grow MindJam with the loveliest, most amazing mentors who truly understand young people, their interests and their struggles, and can help them to reach their incredible potential.

How does MindJam help children and their parents?

MindJam is emotional and SEN support for young people through gaming, game design and digital skills.

Through online 1-to-1 sessions, MindJam provides mentorship and guidance to young people to support their emotional needs and SEN identity through positive, non-judgemental and low-demand sessions.

Our mentors’ shared passion for gaming provides a platform to build a trusting, long-lasting relationship from which we can support their individual needs, whether emotional or SEN. All mentors are experienced and trained in supporting neurodivergent individuals including autistic young people and other additional needs such as PDA, ADHD, anxiety, stress and trauma.

We are proud to be an approved provision for many local authorities around the UK and work with the schools, specialist provisions, NHS. We also work with Sony, BAFTA and other games companies.

At MindJam our primary focus is to support young people’s emotional well-being. We believe that the key to doing so is by engaging them in a world in which they feel safe and comfortable, namely video games.

How many MindJam mentors do you currently have on board?

MindJam has grown to have over 100 mentors supporting over 2000 young people. They are a fantastic mix of the most inspiring, caring people. With years of experience supporting young people, plus a diverse range of skills from teachers and health professionals to professional game designers, film makers, and artists.

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive workplace and many of our mentors are neurodivergent themselves.

What kind of topics/areas of interest do your mentors focus on?

Support can take many different forms; it can be playing together in games such as Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox and recognising gaming skills and achievements. Or through developing a digital skill such as game design, 3D design, digital art, animation, music editing or video editing. These activities are great for relieving stress, anxiety and providing emotional regulation and have been shown to greatly benefit mental health and cognitive development.

By connecting through these activities, a trusting bond can be formed with the mentor, who can support with emotional well-being, focusing on anxiety, stress, trauma, confidence, self-esteem, understanding themselves and the world around them, developing interests and skills and helping to reengage with education or look into careers.

How long are the sessions and how often can they be?

Sessions can start from 30 minutes per week, but many grow with engagement to 1-5 hours per week. Each young person is unique and MindJam will tailor their support to match them.

Sessions last for as long as the young person requires them, we believe that long lasting support is the key to building trust, confidence and self-esteem. Many of our mentees have been with us for over a year.

Do you offer any face to face mentoring or is it all online?

All MindJam sessions are 1-2-1 and online, although we do also have live meet up events throughout the year.

We have also just launched the MindJam Adventure Guild which is Dungeons & Dragons sessions for small groups led by an experienced MindJam mentor.

Is it possible to have MindJam sessions awarded as part of an education package via Local Authorities?

Yes. We are an approved provision for many local authorities around the country and many young people have their sessions funded through their EHCP or EOTAS package.

Please see or send us an email to for more information.

Here's a link to some information about the wonderful benefits of gaming:
MindJam - Benefits-of-Gaming

head and shoulders of a smiling man underneath the Mindjam logo

I know that MindJam has played a huge part in increasing self-confidence and keeping mental health afloat for many young children already, and I hope they are shown support from all sectors of society to enable them to continue providing this vital, life-changing service. Please follow them on social media and engage with them directly if you have any further questions - be patient though, as they are likely to be very busy and there will most probably be a waitlist!

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