By: NINA SWIFT
Sheffield was selected by the Government and the NHS earlier this year as one of 22 pilot areas to run a £3.2m scheme aimed at transforming emotional well-being and mental health services for children.
The Sheffield Healthy Minds Framework has seen mental health champions recruited in 10 primary and secondary schools to help to tackle stress-related illnesses such as depression, eating disorders and self-harm among pupils.
It has also included developing a “whole school approach” to students’ emotional well-being through training, surveys, educational tools and supporting staff in their understanding of good mental health and early help.
The programme was commissioned by the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) alongside Sheffield City Council and delivered by the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
As part of the pilot, Tapton secondary school worked with the NHS to provide staff training, develop advice on dealing with stress to go in every students’ planner and held assemblies on emotional well-being and mental health.
It also ran stress-busting support groups with teachers and CAMHS workers, created 20 mental health champions, who act as the student’s first point of contact with any concerns or worries, and worked with 15 pupils who were nominated to support the school with this work.
Steven Rippin, the assistant headteacher at Tapton School, said: “The project has been a great success. It’s great to see the project being rolled out across the city.
With support from CAMHS, we have organised workshops to help students with exam pressures as well as run assemblies to help students recognise the signs of stress, create good habits to create healthy minds and manage their stress.
“My hope is that by working with our young people on their mental health we will help our students to make the right decisions and get things right for them.
“At Tapton we are passionate about changing the culture of mental health. Working to improve our young people’s mental health is a long-term project for us and we will continue the work that this project has started.
“This whole school approach is not only benefiting our pupil’s well-being, it is also having a positive impact in all areas such as our attainment levels and a more positive approach to learning.”
According to the mental health charity, Young Minds, one in 10 children and young people aged five to 16 suffer from a mental health disorder – the equivalent of roughly three children in every class.
And in a survey that was conducted last year for Parent Zone, 93 per cent of teachers reported seeing increased rates of mental illness among children and teenagers, with 62 per cent dealing with a pupil’s mental health problems at least once a month.
Kate Laurance, the head of commissioning of children and young people at Sheffield CCG, said: “It is great to progress new ways of working to support children and young people’s emotional well-being and mental health in Sheffield.”