Mental health pilot to be launched in Rutland school

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Rutland is leading the way on youth mental health by pioneering a pilot scheme to offer support in a county school.

The project will be launched at Rutland County College in October after a survey by Healthwatch Rutland found many young people needed help coping with academic pressure and bullying.

The pilot will involve a number of means of support for young people, including in-school advice and a Rutland Students Mental Health Forum, which has already been set up.

Dr Ann Williams, who led the survey for Healthwatch Rutland, said: “This is about listening to pupils and finding out what they want us to do.”

The project will be run by Healthwatch Rutland and Rutland County Council. It echoes the Government’s latest policy on child mental health. Last week it was revealed that an extra £143m would be spent improving children’s mental health services in England this year.

It has been developed over a number of months through several workshops with young people in the county.

Key aims include simplifying the mental health structure, improving access, and making the right investments in the county.

The results of the watchdog’s survey, carried outwith academics from the University of Leicester, were released last week. Almost 1,000 youngsters in the county in Years 9 to 13 were asked about education, bullying, the risks of social media and coping with illness.

Of those questioned, almost half said they had needed help coping with academic pressure. About 20 per cent needed help because of bullying, with half of that coming from social media.

Young people often turned to family and friends for support, according to the survey. But those who said they had reached the stage where they needed help were more likely to consider drugs, alcohol, eating and/or self-harm to relieve pressure.

More than 50 per cent had asked a family member for help and 88 per cent thought that was useful. Just 24 per cent had asked a teacher for help with 82 per cent finding it useful. And relatively few had sought help from a counsellor, psychiatrist, psychologist, GP or other source. The survey found there was a lack of knowledge about professional help.

Dr Williams said: “This survey shows that although for many people living in Rutland is a great place to be the stresses and anxieties felt by our young people are no different from those in larger communities.

“It is so important that we build on this survey to ensure we have the right processes in place to help any young person who wants mental health support get it when they need it and from whom they want it. This means working with families, schools, youth organisations, the NHS and most of all young people themselves to make them aware that support is there and that if they need help they can get it.”

Healthwatch Rutland chairman Jennifer Fenelon added: “The mental health needs of young people are often overlooked and the professional help and support they need is often based on an inappropriate adult model of care. Hopefully this survey will alert all our stakeholders that an integrated approach that involves all those involved is the way forward.”

Visit www.healthwatchrutland.co.uk for help and advice.