Mental health projects to use £54m of lottery money to support young people


Mental health projects across England will receive up to £54 million from the Big Lottery Fund in a bid to help and support young people.

HeadStart is an initiative that brings together charities, health commissioners, parents, teachers, GPs, young people and local authorities.

It helps 10-16-year-olds and aims to equip youngsters with the ability to cope with the pressures of modern life, and prevent them from experiencing common mental health problems.

Partnerships in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham in London, and Wolverhampton are now set for a cash injection under the funding scheme.

Lyn Cole, Big Lottery Fund England grant-making director, said: "Mental health issues in early teens, if not tackled early, can develop into more serious conditions, impacting on school results and opportunities later on in life.

"HeadStart has been developed with young people to ensure that mental health is embedded in a school's culture and pupils' emotional welfare is recognised as fundamental to their overall achievement.

"This will raise awareness, tackle stigma and enable young people to seek the support they need when they have problems and are under stress.

"This funding will make a huge difference to the development of young people at a crucial time in their lives."

On average three children in every classroom have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition - with 90% of head teachers reporting an increase in mental health issues over the last five years.

Focusing on providing a supportive environment around young people, the initiative offers a range of approaches in schools and communities including peer mentoring, tips for staying safe online, tackling social media bullying and resilience lessons.

HeadStart also provides targeted support to pupils showing risk factors such as repeated absences and disruptive behaviour - and to particularly vulnerable groups like those in care.

Adults working with children will also be shown how to spot the early signs of problems and what they can do to support young people and where to get them more specialised help.

Taylor Morrison-Eaves, 18, has been supported by HeadStart Blackpool and said he has been involved with the project since the first workshop two and a half years ago.

Suffering from poor mental health, he said getting out of bed every day was a "challenge", and that he would struggle with simple tasks like putting his hand up in class.

The 18-year-old said he reached rock bottom when he was diagnosed with adolescent psychosis and then generalised anxiety disorder - before being put in touch with HeadStart.

He said: "If someone had told me three years ago that I would now be finishing a performing arts course at college with amazing grades, going to university, doing something I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember, having the confidence to perform at the Grand Theatre and doing presentations on what I'm passionate about, I wouldn't have believed you. It's mostly thanks to HeadStart Blackpool.

"HeadStart Blackpool has taught me so many new skills that are so useful in various situations. They've taught me interview techniques and how to lead a workshop.

"Building resilience is key to helping young people have the strength and confidence to face life's adversities and ask for help when they need it."

Through the fund Blackpool Council is set to receive £9,996,247, Cornwall Council £8,929,172, Hull City Council £7,817,399, Kent County Council £9,989,587, London Borough of Newham £9,807,073 and City of Wolverhampton Council £8,879,618.