Mental health has consistently been a top issue as voted on by young people aged 11 to 18 across Sunderland in the annual State of the City Debate.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people.
In 2017 Together for Children initiated the Thriving and Coping Work-stream, a group of multi-agency professionals, working with Sunderland Youth Parliament (SYP), with the aim of launching a Sunderland Mental Health Charter Mark.
The Charter Mark may be gained at bronze, silver or gold levels dependent on a provider’s ability to demonstrate how it supports children and young people, parents and staff.
Some of the mental health problems that can affect children and young people include depression, self-harm, anxiety disorders, ADHD and eating disorders. Children from a very early age can present with social emotional difficulties such as attachment issues and separation anxiety.
Catherine Barnett, Headteacher at Hylton Redhouse Nursery School chairs the Thriving and Coping Work-stream and said: “The Charter Mark was the idea of children and young people across the city, via Sunderland Youth Parliament.
“Schools and other providers can provide universal support to young people and their families by signposting those in need of support to the right service, for example Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service or to the Children and Young People’s Service.”
Helen Ellison, Deputy Headteacher at Southwick Community Primary School said: “Our school obtained bronze accreditation in 2018 and we are further embedding awareness throughout our culture by providing additional training to our teachers.”
To date 17 schools across Sunderland have received bronze Charter Mark accreditation and Together for Children, which operates Sunderland’s children’s services and supports SYP, is encouraging all services and settings that work with children and young people to establish the Charter Mark – such as all schools, training providers and private early years providers.
Simon Marshall, Director of Education at Together for Children, said: “The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with issues in adult life. Therefore we encourage all schools and other education providers to implement this Charter Mark.”
Anyone wishing to find out more should visit https://www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/mental-health-charter-mark