Pupils from St Helens Council’s Tuition Service celebrated becoming an ‘emotionally healthy’ school on International Day of Happiness (Monday 20 March) by handing out free hula hoops – donated by Youth Sport Trust – to members of the public to help spread some cheer.
St Helens Council staff, who had congregated in Victoria Square on Monday afternoon as a result of a fire alarm test in the Gamble Building, were among those to get caught up in the fun – before the group headed over to St Helens Police Station in College Street where several officers came out to join pupils and show off their hula skills.
Earlier in the day, Tuition Service – which provides a calm and nurturing environment to help pupils with complex and/or medical needs return to mainstream provision – showed its commitment to raising mental health and wellbeing awareness by becoming an ‘emotionally healthy’ school.
The St Helens Emotionally Healthy Schools Project, supported by St Helens Council and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, has been introduced as part of the Local Transformation Plan for Children’s Mental Health services and is based on national guidance developed by Public Health England alongside the Department for Education.
The guidance was developed after evidence from a National Taskforce revealed that half of all mental illness in adults starts before the age of 14, and three quarters of lifetime mental health disorders have their first onset before the age of 18.
The national guidance includes an eight principle approach to implementing system and setting change in both schools and mental health services in order to create strong partnerships, improve the capacity and capability of the workforce to provide appropriate interventions at the right time for a young person, and offer on-site targeted support for those children and young people who are experiencing more complex mental health issues.
Central to this project are the voices of young people and the project will be delivered in the spirit of partnership working, eventually cascading the learning to other schools and beyond.
The overarching outcomes of the project are:
– Skills development amongst young people to promote rounded and resilient lifelong outcomes
– Increase staff skills in how to effectively support a young person experiencing mental health difficulties
– Create a sustainable environment and ethos in which emotional well-being thrives and educational outcomes are achieved.
– Enable young people to provide a peer-to-peer opportunity to reduced stigma and increase awareness of the complexities of mental health
The launch at Tuition Service, based in the Beacon Building in College Street, was designed to introduce parents to the external agencies through a market place event that gave them the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns about their children. It was also an opportunity for pupils to celebrate their work through presentations on anxiety and healthy eating before the whole unit moved over to the Central Library to show off their art work at an International Day of Happiness event and to support past student, Olivia Parr, who performed to the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Councillors Dave and Jeanette Banks.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Jeanie Bell, said: “As a council we will continue to show our commitment in developing young people’s understanding of mental health and wellbeing through education.
“Identifying children who are at risk of poor mental health early is key, and improving the relationship between schools and mental health services is a critical element of this project.”
Rob Vaughan, Teacher in Charge at Tuition Service, added: “Our students were really pleased with the launch turnout, and feedback from parents on the mental health support St Helens Council offers their children has been extremely positive.
“It was great to see our pupils, some of whom find it difficult to communicate with people in unprecedented situations, take it upon themselves to make others smile on International Day of Happiness as we celebrated becoming an emotionally healthy school.”