Young campaigners win NHS Mental Health training for school pupils

Dr Lesley French

Pupils who campaigned for mental health training at their school will soon begin a one-year pilot.

Youngsters at two Greenwich schools will be trained as Resilience Peer Mentors, able to offer initial support and signposting to classmates going through mental health issues.

The campaign was put together by young people from Greenwich Citizens, part of Community Organising alliance Citizens UK, after talks with Dr Lesley French, Clinical Director, at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

The partnership was announced at an event held at the school on Wednesday (13 July).

Oxleas will train 10 school pupils in Corelli College Co-Operative Academy, Blackheath and St. Paul's Academy, Abbey Wood as Resilience Peer Mentors.

Other schools, colleges and youth groups from Citizens UK are now looking to build on the work of these students. This includes Greenwich Free School - who presented results from a co-designed research project with Oxleas, looking at Mental Health issues in Greenwich schools.

Chloe Toland, sixth form student at Corelli College Co-Operative Academy, said:
"We're really thankful to Dr Lesley French, for agreeing to work with us as members of Greenwich Citizens. Young people like me need an active role, if we are going to improve the situation with young people's mental health. Campaigns to raise awareness are good, but training new Resilience Peer Mentors is a great first step for young people being able to do something very practical about the issue, and ensure other young people get help before they get much worse."
Dr Lesley French, Clinical Director of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, said:
"It's so important that young people are able to help and support one another and this training equips them to be able to do just that. Alongside HeadScape, our mental health and welbeing website for young people in Greenwich, we're able to offer young people the support they need in the ways they tell us they want to access it."

Diana Webb, Learning Mentor at St. Paul's Academy, said:
"It's been incredible seeing how our young people are making a difference to the challenge of mental health, meeting and influencing key decision makers in the NHS, alongside pupils from other schools in Citizens UK".

Mike Baxter, Assistant Headteacher at Greenwich Free School, said:
"I'm so proud of our students working with other schools as part of Citizens UK, in making positive change to young people's mental health. In listening to and studying the needs of their peers, then leading on this issue, they embody the very best of our school values of Growth, Fellowship and Scholarship".

NHS Greenwich CCG, Ravensbourne, University of Greenwich and METRO Centre are also linked to the project.

Published on 18th July 2016