Big Lottery Fund
Mental health schemes to catch pupils ‘before they fall’
New mental health projects across England will help school pupils to deal with their problems and worries after receiving almost £5m of development funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s £75m HeadStart programme.
The funding means that pupils in a number of areas across the country will take part in pilot projects in the new school year. The area partnerships will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could then benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.
The areas receiving grants of £500,000 are Middlesbrough, Cumbria, Blackpool, Knowsley, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Southampton, Kent, Cornwall and the London Borough of Lewisham. The partnerships in these areas will bring together a key mix of young people, youth workers, charities, health commissioners, parents, teachers, GPs and local authorities to address the various factors that influence a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
The statistics on child mental health make stark reading. Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years while one in 10 young people – so approximately three in every classroom – has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem .
A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18.
The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.
Lyn Cole, Deputy England Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We know that around three young people in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder and this is a desperately sad situation. HeadStart is all about catching our young people before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil that may affect them all though their lives. This development funding means that children in areas across England will play an important role in helping other young people get emotional support at a key stage in their lives.”
Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton, co-Director of Boingboing Social Enterprise and HeadStart advisor, said: “Good mental and emotional health is as important to a child’s development as good physical health. Too often this can be neglected until problems and worries have become much more serious. The key to ensuring a strong emotional resilience among young people is early intervention. This involves tackling the root of the causes, including poverty and discrimination. The importance of prevention rather than the cure cannot be underestimated. The HeadStart programme will help to develop ways of supporting young people’s mental and emotional resilience in a world that only seems to subject them to more and more pressures.”
For more information on HeadStart please contact the press office on the details below.
Notes to editors
 - The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group, LSE: How Mental Health Illness Loses Out in the NHS (2012).
- The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
- The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 the Fund has awarded close to £6bn.
- The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
- In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was returned to the Good Causes
- Since the National Lottery began in 1994, over £31 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
1 Lifetime Impacts: Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health, Understanding The Lifetime Impacts London: Mental Health Foundation p4, 8, (2005)
2 Green, H., McGinnity, A., Meltzer, H., et al. (2005). Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain 2004. London: Palgrave.
3 The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group, LSE: How Mental Health Illness Loses Out in the NHS (2012).
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