Students celebrate one year of Emotionally Healthy Schools

08 December 2016

East Cheshire schoolchildren are celebrating one year of a mental health initiative supporting the health and wellbeing of young people across the region.

The Emotionally Healthy Schools pilot, set up last year by Cheshire East Council, has worked to improve educational and mental health at a number of local schools.

Students at Middlewich High School, along with Ruskin High and Oakfield Lodge in Crewe, Eaton Bank Academy in Congleton, The Macclesfield Academy and Poynton High, have all benefitted from work that has taken place over the last 12 months.

The project has been based on group work with students on resilience, facilitated reflection and mental health awareness training. The pilot 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 there is now talk of expanding the initiative to cover more schools across the borough.

Speaking at the project’s first annual showcase in Congleton, 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 every young person is able to access high-quality support.”

The showcase event included presentations from teachers and students. Poynton High School spoke about training for staff on body image and recognising emotional issues in young people.

Meanwhile, Eaton Bank Academy has set up ‘wellbeing packages’ for students of all ages, from managing new-school anxiety in Year 7 to ‘life after school’ advice for Year 11s and 13s.

CWP has provided Mindfulness sessions in a number of the schools and is working with partners to further develop the mental health systems supporting local young people.

Harry Clayton, 13, 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), Visyon, The Children’s Society and other areas of the voluntary sector.

CWP has pledged future support to the project as part of the Future in Mind campaign. 

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. To view more photos please visit the online image gallery for this event


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