Our Chief Officer Jon Rouse has called on schools and colleges to work with other partners to both recognise and then tackle mental health issues in children and young people in the region.

Speaking at a recent Greater Manchester mental health conference of some 180 delegates made up of senior leaders from schools, colleges, universities and the voluntary sector, Jon Rouse, praised those in the room for attending and having a plan of action but wanted them to spread the word to others that more needed to be done.

The conference heard that Greater Manchester is no different to other parts of the UK in that:

  • 75% of all adult mental health problems start by the age of 18
  • Only 25% of young people with mental health problems get access to the right support
  • 12% of young people have a long term health condition – this significantly increases the risk of mental health and emotional wellbeing problems
  • Young people are one of the highest rising population groups in Greater Manchester

Jon Rouse said:  “The challenge is for every school and college to create a framework of support to build up young people’s mental health and resilience, focusing on key attributes such as self-esteem and empathy. We can help them to identify when a young person may be struggling and how to intervene early and effectively.”

“If each Greater Manchester place of learning can do this and learn from others then we can begin to build up a powerful network of support and sanctuary. This will improve the lives of thousands of young people and staff and over time will have a profound effect on educational outcomes as well as the social and economic fabric of our region.”

“To play our part we are developing a Greater Manchester-wide consistent offer that can be delivered locally for the benefits of young people.”

We have drafted five key health ‘asks’ of schools and colleges to help set a Greater Manchester standard that will be developed to allow others to deliver locally. These are:

  • Encouraging young people to develop healthy lifestyles
  • Supporting young people (and their families) in developing core resilience to tackle problems and face issues
  • Working with other community organisations to provide a strong support network for children and young people
  • Being a good employer in proactively supporting the health and welfare of staff
  • Getting involved in Greater Manchester work on health and care of young people, so that they can benefit from best practice and mutual support across the region.

Dr Sandeep Ranote, Greater Manchester clinical lead on child and adolescent mental health services, treats young people across the GM area.

Dr Ranote said: “Both myself and colleagues treat young people with a range of mental health issues and while some great work already takes place, we recognise that families and young people still struggle to access consistent support and appropriate services.”

“After parents, teachers and lecturers probably spend more time with young people than anyone else and so are a crucial part of the team. They are best placed to understand their needs and help develop individual plans where needed.”

“Devolution gives us the opportunity to pioneer mental health provision in GM across all ages and ensure that we continue to deliver good care as part of the transition to adulthood.”

“The will is there among many professionals and volunteers who work with children and young people and we need to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to come together to support and treat those who need it the most.”

“Together we can build a city region where young people don’t just survive….they thrive.”

Laura Edwards is a Greater Manchester college student and member of the developing Greater Manchester Youth Assembly, she says: “I think it’s so important that young people and professionals work together to tackle the problem. If we know how to support each other and what mental health actually is, there’ll be less stigma.”

“If we learn how to be resilient and how to cope from when we were young, say before we turn five, we’d be better able to cope with issues. We can’t just rely on parents to teach this stuff, especially when mental health issues can run in families. If services were improved with significant input from young people, particularly those who have been treated, then outcomes would improve.”

“We desperately need change and Greater Manchester can lead the way.”

Lisa Williams, Head of Commissioning Support from YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people’s mental health, said:

“Research, and all our work directly with young people, shows that they want to be listened to, understood and respected by all professionals in the system. They and their families also want to understand what they can do themselves to improve their own health and wellbeing and to support each other better.

“Pupils who are helped and supported to have better health and wellbeing also do better academically, and the more the school supports pupils to build resilience the better they will do when faced with life’s challenges, both in and outside of school.”