Yesterday (10 October) 31 Sunderland schools received awards from the Mayor of Sunderland in recognition of their Charter Mark status and Elisha Marsh, aged 10, a Year Six pupil at Hylton Castle Primary School received a special award for her outstanding creativity in creating the logo identity for the Charter Mark.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people.
Sunderland Youth Council is a group of young people aged 11 to 19 that represent the voices of young people across Sunderland who work to make change on specific issues voted for by young people. The Mental Health Charter Mark was an idea that came about following the annual State of the City Debate at the end of 2016.
In 2017 Together for Children initiated the Thriving and Coping Work-stream, a group of multi-agency professionals to work with Sunderland Youth Council, with the aim of launching a Sunderland Mental Health Charter Mark.
The Thriving and Coping Work-stream partners include: Together for Children, City of Sunderland Council, the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service, Sunderland Counselling Service, Washington Mind, Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust.
The Group meet regularly and together have developed the Charter Mark that encourages schools and other settings to spot the signs of mental ill-health in learners and in colleagues.
The Charter Mark may be gained at bronze, silver or gold level dependent on a provider’s ability to demonstrate how it supports children and young people, 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.
Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr. David Snowdon, said: “It was an honour to assist in presenting awards to schools that have obtained Mental Health Charter Mark status.
“World Mental Health Day raises awareness of mental health issues and initiatives like this are vital to offer the support needed.”
Catherine Barnett, Chair of the Sunderland Thriving and Coping Group, said: “The emotional well-being of children and young people 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 adulthood and that’s a key objective of the charter mark.”
Simon Marshall, Director of Education at Together for Children, said: “I encourage all schools and other education settings to adopt the Charter Mark. Mental Health should no longer hold any stigma, we need to encourage openness and ensure children, young people, their families and our colleagues receive support as needed.”
Dr. Johannes Dalhuijsen, GP, Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group Lead for Mental Health, said: “Around a third of problems GPs deal with are about mental health. Everyone struggles with their mental health from time to time and I feel that the Mental Health Charter Mark is already becoming an important lever to help children in Sunderland develop the best possible mental health.”
To find out more about the Sunderland Mental Health Charter Mark please visit https://www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/mental-health-charter-mark