Schools increase mental health support
Children across East Cheshire are being encouraged to use local mental health support when they head back to school this term.
Many local schools have this year signed up to the Emotionally Healthy Schools programme, which has worked to improve educational and mental health amongst young people.
The programme, set up by Cheshire East Council, has already benefitted students at Middlewich High School, Ruskin High and Oakfield Lodge in Crewe, Eaton Bank Academy in Congleton, The Macclesfield Academy and Poynton High over the last 12 months.
The pilot project was based on group work with students on resilience, facilitated reflection and mental health awareness training and has improved confidence in schools when responding to the emotional needs and mental health of children and young people.
Local charities Visyon and Just Drop In have worked alongside The Children’s Society and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust (CWP) to improve links between schools and health services for young people.
The Emotionally Health Schools pilot has proved so successful that the programme is now available to all Cheshire East schools this academic year.
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust (CWP) and Just Drop In will also work in partnership with local authorities, schools and Children and Young People’s services to develop pathways between education and mental health services.
Speaking at the project’s annual showcase earlier this year, Cheshire East Council Head of Preventative Services Jonathan Potter said: “It has been recognised both regionally and nationally that there is a growing need to support the emotional wellbeing of young people.
“When establishing the project last year, we identified a shared set of challenges that could only be addressed through closer working between schools, the council and mental health services.
“I am pleased that the Emotionally Healthy Schools Project has been able to fill a number of gaps so that young people are able to access high-quality support.”
CWP Emotionally Health Schools Senior Practitioner Robert Lupton added: “By providing school staff with the space to reflect on their students’ emotional wellbeing, and by delivering mental health awareness sessions, the project has raised the confidence of school staff.
“Emotionally Health Schools is playing an important role in equipping teachers with the skills to respond to the social, emotional and mental health needs of the children and young people they work with.”
Harry Clayton, of Middlewich High School, said: “More than anything else in the world, every teenager just wants to feel ‘normal’ so that they can fit in.
“The Emotionally Healthy Schools project has taught us that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ as everyone is different and we all think and feel in different ways.
“The project’s courses have been really helpful and are helping thousands of students at lots of different schools.”
According to Public Health England, in an average class of 30 15-year-old pupils, three could have emotional issues, 10 are likely to have witnessed a family breakdown, one could have experienced a family bereavement, and seven are likely to have been bullied.
The Emotionally Healthy Schools project is being funded by Cheshire East Council Public Health, Eastern Cheshire CCG and South Cheshire CCG to tackle thee issues, with support from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), Just Drop In, Visyon, and other areas of the voluntary sector.
CWP has pledged future support to the project as part of the Future in Mind campaign. To find out more about mental health support available in your area, please use our online 'Find Services' tool.
Photo: Harry Clayton (centre right) and fellow students at Middlewich High and Ruskin High School showcase work completed as part of the Emotionally Healthy Schools project