THE BLOG

We Can All Play a Role in Mental Health Support

29/05/2016 21:01 | Updated 29 May 2016

Growing up in today's world can be difficult. Negative comments on your Instagram, pressure to look a certain way, worries about exams or arguments you're your friends - these can lead to difficult thoughts and feelings for anyone. For some that could develop into a mental health issue.

About three people in every classroom will experience a mental health issue. That means it's very likely that someone you know, or possibly even you could be affected.

We are committed to making sure you get the support you need when you need it. We are putting a record £1.4 billion being invested in supporting children's mental health this Parliament - it is money aimed at transforming the mental health support available to young people across the country.

Work is also underway to make sure mental health services are more joined up with schools so young people have better, faster access to the support they need. With NHS England we are trialling a £3 million scheme involving hundreds of schools to test having named, single points of contact in local mental health services so parents and teachers know where to turn for help.

Making sure the right professional help is there is vital but we also want you to know how to look after your mental health and feel empowered to help others if they are having a difficult time. This is important because you will know your friends really well, so you can spot when things are wrong.

I have heard first-hand from young people just how keen they are to support each other on this issue. A particular story that stood out for me was of two good friends - Amber and Sophia - who told me how Amber supported Sophia while she was dealing with anorexia. In Amber's eyes, this was no more than being a good friend but it is a powerful example of the support friends can offer.

That's why we are investing £1.5 million to develop support networks in secondary schools and online so young people can feel confident about giving each other that 'peer-to-peer' support.

Some schools already have their own versions of these support networks. One of those schools is Sandon Academy in Essex. It has 160 mentors in years 10, 11, 12 and 13 who are trained to offer different types of support to other pupils, on things like losing a loved one or managing stress. I went to the school and met with some of the students taking part, including a student called Maddie who told me how she suffered with anxiety when she was in Year 8. She is now a mentor to other students so that she can help them learn how to deal with similar feelings.

Schools play an important role but I know many of you will spend about as much time on your phones or laptops as you do in the classroom, so making sure you have support online is just as important. We are going to create online support for you and as we develop this I'm keen to hear from as many young people like you as possible, so it gives you the information and advice you need.

But there are already some great apps out there that can support you, such as one we have funded called Silent Secret. It allows you to share your thoughts and feelings anonymously with other people and can direct you to support.

We are working hard to get this support out to you and will look to make your voice heard as we develop it. In the meantime, if you are having difficult thoughts or feelings then as well as speaking to your friends, family or teachers, you can find lots of information on mental health and where you can get support on the Young Minds website.

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