World-class athletes are part of a groundbreaking project providing mental health support in more than 30 Greater Manchester schools.

One in ten children experience a mental health difficulty. So as part of its mental health plans, the Partnership has teamed up with sport stars on a new project providing school-children across the region with mental health and emotional wellbeing support.

A launch event was held on Friday 9th March at Heathfield Primary School in Bolton, kicking off a six-month pilot period. Following this, the aim is to roll out the project in all schools and colleges across Greater Manchester.

More than 30 schools across Greater Manchester will be the first to benefit from specialist support for both pupils and teachers.  The pilot schools are in the following areas:

  • Manchester (Manchester, Blackley and Moss Side)
  • Oldham
  • Trafford (Trafford, Sale, Flixton, Stretford and Urmston)
  • Bolton
  • Bury (Bury and Whitefield)
  • Wigan (Leigh)
  • Stockport

Athletes including world champion Thai boxer Rachael Mackenzie and former England hockey star Charlotte Hartley will work with pupils across primary and secondary schools together with special educational needs schools and pupil referral units. Students will be supported to build their confidence and reach their full potential; coached in key life skills such as growing their self-esteem, learning creative thinking skills and coping strategies for challenges.

Each school will have a lead for mental health and they will be trained to understand and spot the signs of mental health issues in children and young people such as anxiety and stress. Teachers will be supported to work more effectively with children and young people experiencing mental health problems, In addition, they will have support and consultation directly with a specialist mental health team who will provide advice, information and support schools to access appropriate services if needed, in a timely way.

The programme is a new collaboration between Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the Alliance for Learning Teaching School Alliance (part of Bright Futures Educational Trust), the Youth Sport Trust, 42nd Street and Place2Be. Schools from across Greater Manchester will be involved in the pilot that will launch over the next couple of months. The vision is that the pilot will inform a Greater Manchester programme for all schools and colleges to access and benefit from.

This schools pilot is part of a major £134m four-year action plan to help to transform mental health in Greater Manchester, announced in July by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

The overall investment programme – the biggest and most ambitious of its kind in the country – aims not only to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health, but to start to deliver the area’s vision of making sure that no child who needs mental health support will be turned away.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “I want every child growing up in Greater Manchester to achieve their

Partners representing the pilot l-r: Rachael Mackenzie (Youth Sport Trust), Dr Sandeep Ranote (GMHSCP), Lisa Fathers (Alliance for Learning), Debbie Simmons (Place2Be), Simone Spray (42nd Street), Christ Wright (Youth Sport Trust) and Zulfi Jiva (GMHSCP)
Partners representing the pilot l-r: Rachael Mackenzie (Youth Sport Trust), Dr Sandeep Ranote (GMHSCP), Lisa Fathers (Alliance for Learning), Debbie Simmons (Place2Be), Simone Spray (42nd Street), Chris Wright (Youth Sport Trust) and Zulfi Jiva (GMHSCP)

full potential both in and out of the classroom. That means ensuring that young people get the help and support they need as they navigate growing up in an increasingly insecure and challenging world. This schools pilot, using sport and professional athletes, is part of our work to transform mental health services in Greater Manchester and ensure we give all children the best possible start in life.”

Dr Sandeep Ranote, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Children’s Mental Health Lead for Greater Manchester  said: “I am delighted that Greater Manchester is leading the way with the roll out of the rapid schools pilot. Many children and young people spend a lot of their day in school and as a Partnership we want to provide that support in a familiar setting. We should look after our emotional health and wellbeing as we look after our physical health. Our children and young people deserve the best start in life and our focus is on making sure this happens and helping prevent problems in the future.”

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