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Children as young as five taught about mental health in new sessions

PUBLISHED: 15:37 07 February 2019

Trainer Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind, teaching students at Sidegate Primary School. Picture: SAM HICKS

Trainer Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind, teaching students at Sidegate Primary School. Picture: SAM HICKS

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Young people as young as five are being taught from an early age about the importance of their mental health thanks to a charity's new work in schools.

Year-six pupils at Sidegate Primary School enjoying an EARLY Minds session. Picture: SAM HICKSYear-six pupils at Sidegate Primary School enjoying an EARLY Minds session. Picture: SAM HICKS

The new initiative, EARLY Minds (Emotional Awareness and Resilience Learnt Young), aims to teach young people from year-one and upwards about people’s emotional needs and steps to improve their general well-being.

Teachers, parents and carers are also benefiting from the training from Suffolk Mind as part of the plans that are currently in development stages.

Holbrook Academy contacted Suffolk Mind after reviewing its previous approach to mental health.

Deputy headteacher Nicola Shelley said: “Straight away they were able to discuss their philosophy and offer us advice, guidance and practical support.

“Suffolk Mind and Gecko Theatre Company ran a fantastic workshop with students at Holbrook during which young people could openly discuss and explore the issues affecting them.”

EARLY Mind lead trainer Charlie Green said: “This project is still in the development stages, but is already making a difference.

“One of our main aims is to raise awareness of what it means to be emotionally and physically well.

“It is interesting that if you ask any child from five upwards what a plant needs to be well, they can answer straight away – sunlight, water and food.

“But ask them about what humans need to be well and they are not so sure. This is what we aim to change across the county.”

For younger children, the scheme involves afternoon storytelling sessions about characters dealing with emotional needs.

Sidegate Primary in Ipswich, Saxmundham Primary and Laureate Community Academy are other schools in the region to have worked with Suffolk Mind.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems affect about one in 10 children and young people in the UK, which includes depression and anxiety. Surveys suggest that there are a higher amount of young people with mental health problems today than in the last 30 years.

Children’s Mental Health Week runs between February 4 and February 10.

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