Children's mental health initiative 'highly commended' | Knutsford Times

Children’s mental health initiative ‘highly commended’

By on October 27, 2018

An initiative to improve the emotional wellbeing of children and young people in schools across Cheshire East has been highly commended, at a Liverpool event.

The scheme encourages young people to talk to trained school staff about their troubles and anxieties, so they can be addressed before they impact on the child’s health and wellbeing.

The project is an innovative response to address the mental health needs of children and young people across the borough and this has been recognised by the shortlisting judges at Positive Practice Mental Health Collaborative – a national organisation geared to highlight best practice in mental health and wellbeing.

A multi-agency group, called the Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project, was set up to tackle the issue back in 2016 and aims to develop teaching staff to ensure they meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of their students.

In Cheshire East, almost 12,500 children and young people are estimated to have a mental health disorder – this equates to 13 per cent of the population aged up to 24 years.

The partnership comprises: Cheshire East Council, local schools, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), NHS Eastern Cheshire and South Cheshire CCGs and the charities Visyon and Just Drop In.

Their work is helping more children and young people to ‘feel good and function well’. The ethos of the group is to ensure children focus on improving their resilience and focuses on making it acceptable to ask for support.

There are almost 50 teaching staff based at schools across Cheshire East and they have received specialised training to:

  • Identify signs that might suggest someone is depressed or feeling extremely low;
  • Recognise risk and identify key risk factors of unhappiness/low morale;
  • Have increased confidence to ask direct questions about personal issues; and
  • List key support services available for young people who feel depressed;

The success recognised the success of health and social care bodies that adopt a strategic approach to meeting the needs of children and young people who need help and protection, including early intervention.

Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “We are delighted to have been highly commended for this prestigious national award. It’s also re-assuring to see we are ahead of the game and trail blazing best practice. The mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people is vitally important to a good experience of childhood and determining long-term health into adulthood.

“The scale of our aspirations in this area knows no bounds and I am so proud of the strength of our relationship with schools, the health service and other key agencies. We have ambitious plans for a new ‘Emotionally Healthy Children and Young People Programme’ extending the offer to early year’s education and parenting support that will offer a single point of access to services.”

Robert Lupton, team co-ordinator for emotionally healthy schools links team Cheshire East, from CWP, said: “Emotionally Healthy Schools is playing an important role in equipping role in equipping teachers with the skills to respond to the social, emotional and mental health needs of the children and young people they work with.

“The project is something that is very close to my heart and to see it recognised in such a way just reinforces that we are making a positive difference.”

Jane Henry, project manager for the Tools for Schools element of the project said: “As part of the project, Visyon has trained more than 2,000 staff members in schools. We have also been working directly with more than 500 children to help build their resilience and promote health and well-being. In addition, we have delivered approximately 150 workshops to staff, governors and parents and all the feedback received has been excellent.”

The positive news came the day after the announcement of the appointment of Jackie Doyle-Price, the first ever ‘Minister for Suicide Prevention’ in the UK as well as World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

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About Lucy Thorpe

Lucy Thorpe is a freelance journalist who writes for the Knutsford Times - covering stories and news in and around Cheshire and Greater Manchester. If you've got a story to share, or would like to speak to Lucy, please email

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