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Conference puts the focus on mental health in our schools

PUBLISHED: 19:14 10 February 2016 | UPDATED: 19:14 10 February 2016

James Joyce.

James Joyce.

Archant

Young people who have been affected by mental health problems at school have told a conference of headteachers, health professionals and charities about their experiences.

More than 170 people attended yesterday’s conference at Sprowston Manor, which included an address by Natasha Devon, the Department for Education’s mental health champion for schools.

The event, organised by Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders and the Norfolk Primary Headteachers’ association, also included talks on the emerging picture in Norfolk, case studies from nine primary and high schools in the county, and the role of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “Mental wellbeing is a real concern, not only in Norfolk, but across the country.

“A key element is working together to eliminate the misconceptions that can still exist around mental health. We want children to feel they can speak out and seek the help they need to live happy and healthy lives.

“This conference is an excellent way to pull together representatives from local schools, nurseries, colleges and support providers to discuss the issues and how we can improve school experiences for children and young people.

“What we are all ultimately striving for is better information and emotional wellbeing support.”

Young people from the youth council of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust showed delegates a short film they made using puppets of themselves to give an insight of mental health issues from a young person’s perspective.

Last October, they showed the film at International Association for Youth Mental Health in Canada.

Research by the NHS and commissioned by the Department for Health – ‘Future in Mind’ - showed that one in 10 children need support or treatment for mental health problems, and 75pc of mental health problems in adult life, excluding dementia, start by the age of 18.

Carol Dallas, headteacher of Taverham High, said next steps, following the conference, included carrying out research with other organisations about how to work with other mental health services.

She said: “It’s about trying to see what works, and sharing it. It’s a starting point, rather than a finishing point.”

Do you have a story about mental health issues in our schools? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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