More than 100 Secondary school pupils from schools across Kent, met together to join the ‘big conversation’ about mental health in young people.
The event, hosted by Big Lottery Funded HeadStart Kent programme, gave students information on improving their mental health with workshops leading up to a big debate.
Workshops with a practical element gave an opportunity to try proven techniques to lessen anxiety.
These included recognising how to build resilience, healthy relationships, positivity of volunteering and yoga.
Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education at Kent County Council said: “With an increasing number of young people experiencing emotional problems and mental health issues, it is everyone’s business to lessen the stigma around mental health and to build emotional resilience.
“The purpose of the event was to give young people and their peers a greater understanding of what help is available in order to support their own emotional health and wellbeing.”
The day-long event was opened with a speech from Time to Change Youth Champion, Rachael, who shared her own story of the effects of poor mental health on her own life.
One girl from Tunbridge Wells Grammar said: “We liked the HeadStart domains workshop, it gave us practical things we can do like breathing in for four counts and out for seven, these were good coping mechanisms for when you’re feeling anxious.”
Boys from Oasis Academy also gave it the thumbs up, saying that the concentration exercise was their favourite.
During the debate session, young people were able to ask questions from a range of professionals and practitioners from services, including CAMHS, School Nursing and Early Help.
Workshops during the day were led by organisations including Sateda, Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind. Other partners on the day included Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, Metro, Imago, Addaction, KYCC and Art 31.
The HeadStart Kent programme is funded by the Big Lottery to support 10-16 year-olds to build emotional resilience; defined by ‘headStarters’ as the ability to be mentally strong enough to bounce back from the problems in life.
The programme rolls out across Kent with a website offering information and tools for everyone to use, as well as targeted activities.
Students can be involved with the design and delivery of the programme by joining the Youth Forum speakout@headstart’, held on the first Saturday every month. Anyone interested should contact the HeadStart team to join in.