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11 July 2014, 06:50
A new mental health project will help school pupils in Southampton to deal with their problems and worries.
A £500,000 grant has been awarded to the city council from the Big Lottery Fund's £75m HeadStart programme.
The development funding means that young people in the area will take part in a pilot project over the next year. The local partnership will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.
A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18.
Figures from a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment show 5,500 young people in the city suffer from mental health problems and hospital admissions for self-harm are higher than the national average.
The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health 'first aid' training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.
Lyn Cole, Deputy England Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said:
"We know that around three young people in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder and this is a desperately sad situation. HeadStart is all about catching our young people before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil that may affect them all though their lives. This development funding means that children in Southampton will play an important role in helping other young people get emotional support at a key stage in their lives."
Councillor Dan Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Education and Change at Southampton City Council, said:
"We are thankful to the Big Lottery Fund for providing Southampton with the opportunity to help the children and young people of our city. We already know young people's experiences in their school, communities or family lives, and on social media can trigger problems that we could avoid with earlier and more support. I'm proud of the young people who have helped us develop our initial ideas and look forward to engaging many more through our programmes, both in and out of schools."