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Mental Health Awareness Week: Two million funding boost transforms mental health support in Southwark schools

Two million has been invested in mental health services in schools across Southwark as dozens of schools work with the council to transform the care and support offered to young people.

Southwark Council says to date 76 schools have made successful funding applications for a range of initiatives aiming to build resilience and promote mental health. 

At least 30,000 pupils will benefit from the scheme, more than two thirds of all students in the borough.

 The local authority has also set up a dedicated taskforce responsible for working closely with schools to improve mental health among pupils as part of the council’s commitment to ensure that every single child has access to the right mental health support and care.

Projects include a wellbeing garden to create space for mindfulness and reflection, poetry workshops to encourage self-expression, and leadership programmes that provide students with opportunities to make a positive impact within their school and local community.

Schools are also encouraged to collaborate with each other, leading to joint projects including an art therapy programme, a sensory space for students requiring more targeted support, and specialist training for parents and carers.

More than 300 Mental Health First Aiders in schools across Southwark have been equipped with the skills and confidence to spot the early signs of mental health issues in a young person and guide them towards the support they need.

Rebecca Sherwood, executive headteacher at The Grove Nursery School, said: “Since we had our new soft play room installed, I actually had a parent saying to me what a change she’s seen in her child that used to be quite anxious coming into nursery. 

“She said now he’s really happy coming into nursery because it’s such an incredible place for him and something he needs.”

Joy Akpojotor, deputy head and pastoral care lead at English Martyrs’ RC Primary School, said: “I believe that personal, social, health and economic education underpins learning. 

“For us it’s been an eye opener making this education the building block of our curriculum. “The children are feeling a lot more secure in themselves and they know if they didn’t do well in a lesson, that you can talk to them. 

“They can find their anchor within their wellbeing and the tools that have been given to them. Because of that, their sense of self is shining through which is really, really important for us.”

Southwark Council’s Jasmine Ali, deputy leader and cabinet member for children, young people and education, said: “We are committed to meeting 100 per cent of our children’s mental health needs. 

“We believe every child who needs mental health support should receive it, and that’s what we aim to do, working closely with our education, health and voluntary sector colleagues and partners.

“We know that prevention and early intervention is key to tackling the causes of potential mental health issues. 

“That’s why we’re investing £2m across all our schools to ensure we’re acting as early as possible to give our children the best possible start in life, especially amid the extra challenges they continue to face as a result of the pandemic.”

Schools have also been signposting young people and families to local support services such as The Nest, a mental health drop-in centre for young people based in Peckham’s Rye Lane.

It is open to any young person aged eleven and above in Southwark who feels they need extra support for their mental health and wellbeing.

For more information about mental health support in Southwark for children and young people, visit The Nest or follow Groundwork London Youth on Twitter or Instagram to stay updated.

For more information about Southwark Council’s investment into mental health and resilience in schools, visit Southwark Schools

For more information about the mental health support available to anyone living in Southwark, visit Southwark Wellbeing Hub or call their helpline on 020 3751 9684.


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