A project encouraging young people and educators to talk openly about mental health issues visited a high school in Accrington.

Tying in with October’s World Mental Health Day Sam Tyrer, founder of Change Talks, attended Mount Carmel RC High under the ‘Train the Trainer’ scheme.

The prevention and engagement team at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) secured funding from Public Health England to carry out the pilot scheme in schools.

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It aims to give teachers all the knowledge they need to have conversations around issues facing young people such as anxiety, depression, and bullying.

All schools will need a mental health lead, as part of the government’s ‘whole school’ approach and Sam’s work with help schools develop their staff into this role.

Sam, who is engagement and prevention lead for the Trust, launched Change Talks four years ago.

He said: “I wanted to go into schools and have open conversations about the issues facing young people, from anxiety and depression, to eating disorders and bullying. I am open with them about having my own mental health struggles in the past; I find this helps to destigmatise the issue and encourages young people to feel safe about sharing their own concerns.

Sam Tyrer, founder of Change Talks
Sam Tyrer, founder of Change Talks

“We are now just launching a ‘train the trainer’ program which allows me to give teachers all the knowledge they need to have these conversations. As we move forward, all schools will need a mental health lead, as part of the government’s ‘whole school’ approach. My work with help schools develop their staff into this role.”

One of the most notable increases in demand as a result of the pandemic has been that of people needing help with eating disorders, and this is an area of focus for Sam’s work.

He added: “Eating disorders have soared over the last 18 months. There are many reasons for this, from people trying to regain some control in a time of uncertainty, to the removal of access to coping mechanisms such as regular exercise and social contact.”

The Trust will be delivering more of this early intervention work, with partners across Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, with the introduction to schools of specialist Mental Health Support Teams.

LSCft also operates a self-refer Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. If you are under 18, feeling low and think that you may need some specialist support, you or your family/carer can self-refer, visit www.healthyyoungmindslsc.co.uk and follow the ‘Children and Young People’ link.

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