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Sports stars back Greater Manchester mental health project

The six month rapid pilot will deliver mental health and emotional wellbeing support in over 30 primary and secondary schools

Posted by Julian Owen | March 20, 2018 | Health & wellbeing

One in ten children experience a mental health difficulty and now Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the body overseeing the devolution of the area’s health and social care budget, is launching a rapid schools pilot - with the help of world-class athletes - to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils.

Over 30 schools across Greater Manchester will be the first to benefit from specialist support for both pupils and teachers. Athletes such as world champion, Thai boxer Rachael Mackenzie, and former England hockey star, Charlotte Hartley, will work with pupils across primary and secondary schools, together with special educational needs schools and pupil referral units. Students will be supported to build their confidence and help reach their full potential; coached in key life skills such as growing their self-esteem; and learning creative thinking skills and coping strategies for challenges.

Each school will have an advocate for mental health, trained to understand and spot the signs of mental health issues in children and young people, such as anxiety and stress. Teachers will be supported to work more effectively with children and young people experiencing mental health problems. In addition, they will have support and consultation directly with a specialist mental health team who will provide advice, information and support schools to access appropriate services in a timely way.

The programme is a new collaboration between Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the Alliance for Learning Teaching School (part of Bright Futures Educational Trust), the Youth Sport Trust, 42nd Street and Place2Be. Schools from across Greater Manchester will be involved in the pilot that will launch over the next couple of months. The vision is that the pilot will inform a Greater Manchester programme for all schools and colleges to access and benefit from.

The schools pilot is part of a major £134m four year action plan to help transform mental health in Greater Manchester.

The overall investment programme – the biggest and most ambitious of its kind in the country – aims not only to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health, but to start to deliver the area’s vision of making sure that no child who needs mental health support will be turned away.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I want every child growing up in Greater Manchester to achieve their full potential both in and out of the classroom. That means ensuring that young people get the help and support they need as they navigate growing up in an increasingly insecure and challenging world. This schools pilot, using sport and professional athletes, is part of our work to transform mental health services in Greater Manchester and ensure we give all children the best possible start in life.”

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