A pioneering scheme aimed at tackling the growing number of pupils who suffer from mental health problems has officially launched in a Yorkshire city.
The Healthy Minds Framework is being rolled out to 45 schools across Sheffield following a successful pilot project.
The city was selected by the Government and the NHS earlier this year as one of 22 areas to run a £3.2m initiative aimed at transforming emotional well-being and mental health services for children.
The programme 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 project 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).
Ian Read, headteacher at Watercliffe Meadow School, one of the schools taking part in the project, said: “Without question, mental health and the emotional well-being of children and young adults in our schools is a growing concern. The roll-out of the Healthy Minds Framework should put Sheffield schools in a much stronger position for dealing with these issues.
“Our workforce will have a shared understanding, language and common approaches to support children’s emotional well-being. This can only be a positive thing for Sheffield and it offers a great opportunity for closer links and joint working between schools and the CAMHS.”
The launch event took place at King Ecgberts, one of the participating secondary schools, and was attended by others taking part in the scheme.
Bethan Plant, health improvement principal in the public health team at Sheffield City Council, said: “It was worthwhile for new participating schools to learn what to expect from the delivery of the model from other schools.
“The project in Sheffield is pioneering in that it was developed through a partnership with the 10 schools involved in the pilot. The model is based on the experience of the schools. It also involves supporting the emotional and mental health of staff as they are on the frontline working with students.
“We are seeing an increase in mental health issues in children and young people across the country and we hope by implementing this project locally we will be creating a whole school model to tackle this.”
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.