School introduces programme to help improve mental health

A FOUR-year programme that aims to help reduce the number of children suffering from poor mental health has been introduced at Haute Vallée School.

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The Resilient School project will give students, their parents and their teachers the skills needed to better manage physical, emotional and psychological health.

According to recent figures in the States Mental Health Review, an average of three children in every classroom are diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Meanwhile, a report by the UK Institute of Education shows that one in four girls and one in ten boys show signs of depression at age 14.

Resilience Development Company, a social enterprise, is behind the project. It is now hoping to receive corporate funding to enable it to offer the project in more schools.

Director Emma Ogilvie said: ‘As an island we have to get better at working together as a whole community to inform and empower change.

‘As a social enterprise, our work in schools, corporate organisations, right through to collaborating with third-sector charities and parents, helps us better understand the challenges faced in order to take practical action around the issues associated with poor mental health.’

Throughout the four-year scheme students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will take part in a number of assemblies and weekly sessions. In Year 10 the students have 90-minute weekly sessions for a period of nine weeks.

Parents are also able to attend four two-hour sessions at the school. To date 450 parents have taken part in the programme.

The students look at cognitive skills, including how to increase stress tolerance and better manage physical, emotional and psychological health.

Mrs Ogilvie, who was a panel member for the States Mental Health Review, said: ‘Poor mental health is a real problem in our local community. The recent Mental Health Review shows that mental illness is one of the main public health problems and highlights depression and anxiety as being the most common. The review highlighted a number of issues but it’s important that we begin to take action as a community, for our children and their future.

‘On a government level the review highlighted some important challenges but it’s important that each and every one of us within our local community has the opportunity to shape our own future.’

Maxine Griffiths, assistant head at Haute Vallée, said: ‘Taking a whole-school approach means we can introduce a core set of skills to proactively manage mental health and reduce the social and emotional barriers to learning, together. There is so much power in introducing a common language in which our school community are better able to talk about their challenges and their emotions without feeling vulnerable.’

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