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Young Barrow

Inspiring mental well-being in schools

In May 2009 Humphrey Perkins School hosted a cutting edge conference to engage with the theme of ‘Inspiring Mental Wellbeing in Schools.’ The 80 delegates and presenters came from the school and health sectors, local authority, parent and governor bodies, local church and charitable bodies such as the Samaritans and Childline. It was an outstanding day seeking to raise the profile of mental health and wellbeing and also work towards structures facilitating a prompter intervention by appropriate professionals when significant mental health issues arise amongst the student body.

During the day some concerning insights were given, including some from the Church of England Children’s Society’s report: ‘Good childhood - a question for our times’. Amongst the Western European Nations, the UK ranks lowest in how well our children are. This is based on a scoring of risky behaviour such as drugs, drinking, smoking, sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, relationships with adults, health, relative poverty and children’s self assessment. Nationally one in fifteen children and young people will self harm and there is one suicide attempt every 20 minutes.

One delegate was the Reverend John Whittaker who commented:

“As a vicar in the Church of England I am very interested and concerned about our health and wellbeing including mental wellbeing. It is inspiring to be at a conference and see this important issue being taken so seriously by the Barrow group of schools.”

The head teacher of Humphrey Perkins, David Edwards said:

“The wellbeing of all our young people is paramount. As a sense of emotional and mental wellbeing underpins the stability of us all, young people cannot learn effectively if they are emotionally and mentally fragile. Our aim, with the support of our fellow professionals, is to offer the best possible support to students in need, and a model of good practice should serve as a benchmark to other schools and localities. After all, the issues identified are national.”

The first aim of the conference was to inform and inspire delegates about mental health and wellbeing and the care needed to support those suffering from despair, depression or other mental illnesses. The second aim was also to facilitate a more coordinated and quicker response to mental health needs in the student body amongst the school, health and social services authorities. The day certainly achieved the first aim and gave a good push in the journey towards securing the second aim.