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Trust joins forces with local schools to launch new mental health and wellbeing strategy

25 Sep 2017

A new mental health and wellbeing strategy has been launched as part of an exciting partnership between North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust and schools across Stoke-on-Trent.

Staff from the Trust’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Schools team have been working closely with a number of primary, special and independent schools in the city to develop individual strategies to best suit their pupils.

The strategy has been developed from a policy first developed by mental health ambassador and educator Dr Pooky Knightsmith, with each of the schools involved in adapting it in line with their own plans.

It was launched at each of the schools on the same day, with a range of activities held to promote mental health and wellbeing.

Among those involved in Abbey Hill School and Performing Arts College, in Meir, (pictured top) which held a competition for students to design a leaf representing one of the five areas of wellbeing – connect, be active, learn, take notice and give. The best three leaves from each of these categories were then awarded a certificate by Head Teacher Ricky Porter. Each of the Key Stages took part in an activity which reflected their wellbeing focus; these activities ranged from being active in the early years foundation stage to thinking about the meaning of giving in Key Stage 5.

Staff at Burnwood Community Primary School, in Chell Heath, (pictured, second from top)  took part in reiki and mindfulness activities, while the children performed yoga, held forest school and music projects and learned about thoughts and feelings. Parents were also invited to take part in some craft activities.

Relaxation sessions were held at Portland School and Specialist College, in Blythe Bridge, (pictured, third from top) including hand massages, meditation and mindfulness. Pupils also created a logo form the new policy out of clay.

Kemball School, in Blurton, (pictured, fourth from top) held a non-uniform day and asked pupils to wear a colour or item of clothing that made them feel happy. Music sessions took place playing happy and positive songs, while children made stress balls and worry dolls. Staff also provided aromatherapy sessions along with popular work outs and mindfulness. In addition, pupils were asked to write something positive about a fellow student and pass it on anonymously.

At Watermill School, in Chell, (pictured, second from bottom) activities included a running machine, exercise bikes, boxercise class and bubble blowing. Pupils also made Guatemalan worry pets out of pom poms, worry dolls, stress balloons filled with flower and wellbeing leaves for the wellbeing tree.

The CAMHS in Schools team (pictured bottom) works with a range of schools to provide mental health services and support. This work has been nationally recognised, Maria Nelligan Director of Nursing and Quality said we are really pleased that  Julia Ford Team Leader has been selected as a finalist in the Clinical Leader of the Year Award at this year’s HSJ Awards, to be announced in November.

Julia said: “It was fantastic that staff and pupils across all of the schools we work with got involved so enthusiastically in the launch of the strategy by holding so many innovative and fun-filled activities. It’s important to talk openly about mental health in the same way as we do about physical health and the strategy enables each school to more effectively do this.

“We will continue to work in close partnership with the schools and I thank them for their hard work and strong support in helping to launch the strategy.”

Kirsty Booth from North Staffordshire Children and Young People’s Youth Council, which works closely with Combined Healthcare, said: “As a Youth Council representative it has been fantastic to see all of the amazing work in schools for the launch. I think the launch is the beginning of a fantastic development that will improve the wellbeing of all young people.”

Notes to editors:

The list of participating schools is as follows: