Mental health scheme to help Lewisham’s pupils ‘before they fall’

A new mental health project will help school pupils in London to deal with their problems and worries after receiving a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s £75m HeadStart programme.

The development funding means that pupils in Lewisham will take part in a pilot project in the new school year. The local partnership will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

 A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fundrevealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18[1].

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Lyn Cole, Deputy England Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We know that around three young people in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder and this is a desperately sad situation. HeadStart is all about catching our young people before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil that may affect them all though their lives. This development funding means that children in Lewisham will play an important role in helping other young people get emotional support at a key stage in their lives.”

Councillor Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Lewisham Council, said: “We are very excited to be part of this pilot project. Making the journey from teenager to adulthood is an important stage in young people’s lives and some will find it easier than others. So it’s important that where we can, we build mental and emotional resilience in those young people who may find the journey more difficult. I look forward to seeing the results of this project and how the involvement of young people in Lewisham has contributed to this important initiative.”

For more information about HeadStart you can contact Healthwatch Lewisham at www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk or info@healthwatchlewisham.co.uk

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