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My name is Kai Leighton. At the age of 17 I created The Mental Shift CIC in a bid to provide young men, who are in a situation I was once in, with an effective, tailored early intervention support service. Following my own personal struggles and battles with mental health and my own physical wellbeing, I started training at Northern Kings Gym in Newcastle - 11 months later, and 44kg down, I had my first fight the happiest and healthiest I have been. Now, I help other young men get to that same point.

Kai Leighton during an interview

CEO Kai Leighton talking to Sandy Holt about The Mental Shift and what it does. Aug 2022

Why are we needed?

With a rising number of teenage lads struggling with their mental health, and not participating in regular exercise, we decided to push them both together to provide a benefit that is not just mental but also physical. The Department of Health recommend young people engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, with the NHS suggesting only 34% of young males get this much needed exercise daily. It is a well-known fact that exercise and physical activity is beneficial for mental wellbeing, based off a Mental Health UK study, 72% of young people said that regular exercise helped them manage stress, confidence, and overall happiness

With a rising crisis amongst young men's mental health, with 75% of suicides being men and suicide being the number 1 killer of men, it is important that we do something to address this. The Government is clearly failing in doing so, which is exactly where we step in.

What do we actually do?

The Mental Shift CIC is an early intervention service which uses Muay Thai to work with males aged 12 to 25. With a range of services, we pride ourselves in offering only the best education, support, and guidance - all with the goal of helping one new person everyday overcome their struggles. Having partnered with 7 gyms and 5 schools across England, we provide educational workshops, 12-week Muay Thai programs, peer mentoring, video resources, and much more... in the past 12 months (as of May 2024), we have provided educational workshops to over 800 students, directly supported over 20 young males aged 14 to 18, and built a team of over 40 fighters with the same shared experience of struggling but using combat sport to better themselves.

We receive referrals from local Youth Justice Services, Childrens and Young Peoples services, Social Care services, gyms, schools, and individuals alike. We have estbalished ourselves as the go-to organisation when it comes to early intervention support and are proud to work with gyms across Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, and Norfolk.

Craig Jose talking to students after a session

Craig Jose, Northern Kings Gym, talking to his fighters after a training session.

How can you help?

We need all the support we can receive. We have seen exponetial growth over the past 18 months and it is all down to you. The fighters, coaches, organisations, supporters, everyone who shares, likes, follows, and talks about us. Thank you. Unfortunately, as grateful as I can ever be, we need to do more to get more support to be able to help more young lads across England. If you are a fighter, coach, service lead, or just a supporter - please share the word of what we do and the benefit we have. If yiou are able to, please visit our footer and donate (every little helps). Or, if you have your won gym, reach out today and we can discuss helping young males in your area too!

Thank you for all the support thus far and here is to a successful 2024!

Kai Leighton

Chief Executive Officer

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