An innovative local programme designed to improve emotional and mental wellbeing in Cheshire East schools is being actively supported by local MP, David Rutley.
The Emotionally Healthy Schools Programme focuses on improving resilience across all schools engaged in the initiative, and on training teaching staff to help them become more fully aware of the mental health and wellbeing needs of the most vulnerable children and young people. It is funded by Cheshire East Council who have commissioned Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Just Drop In, Visyon and Middlewich High School to deliver the project.
David has seen for himself the positive impact that the programme is having on education and behavioural outcomes for pupils. Last year, he visited Poynton High School, an early participant in the programme, and learned from the leadership team there about the steps the school has taken to promote a more proactive approach to addressing mental health issues, by training teachers to identify and respond to emotional or behavioural issues that pupils might be experiencing.
The programme is also supported by local charities, including Macclesfield-based Just Drop-In, of which David is Patron. The charity provides advice, guidance and counselling services to young people aged between 12 and 25, to help them to ‘find their feet’.
The success of the Emotionally Healthy Schools Programme has recently been independently and academically evaluated. Salford University measured the impact of the project on children and young people, school staff and looked at the number of referrals to specialist mental health services in schools that took part in the first phase of the project, for which Middlewich High School was the lead school. Other schools involved in the initial phase of the project were Macclesfield Academy, Eaton Bank Academy, Ruskin High School, and the Cheshire East Pupil Referral Unit. The research undertaken demonstrated a reduction in the number of referrals made and an increase in the uptake of referrals by specialist mental health services. The second phase of the programme is now underway and aims to engage all schools and colleges in Cheshire East by April 2019.
David said, “I am pleased to see the encouraging progress that has been made in recent months with the Emotionally Healthy Schools Programme. It is already having a positive impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people across Cheshire East, and has my strong support. I look forward to actively working with local schools, charities, health organisations, and Cheshire East Council, to see the programme expanded to more schools in the area.”