Over the past few months, Sixth Form students and staff from Cockermouth School have taken part in a Youth Mental Health First Aid course, run by Youth

Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Ann-Marie Steele.

During this course, we were educated in what to do in situations where someone is suffering from a mental illness and may need immediate help. Or in normal everyday situations, where a younger student may be worried about something and we can be there to offer support. The training itself consisted of how to assist those suffering from depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders and self-harm, covering the basis of mental illness and mental wellbeing. This involved both presentations by the mental health trainer and interactive activities which involved simulating what it is like to suffer from a mental illness and also how to assist someone who may be suffering. These activities allowed us to have a better understanding of how to help in a situation where we may have to support an individual.

Cockermouth School was the first school in Cumbria to run this course with both students and staff in the same group. This allowed for both parties to see how students and staff view mental health differently in a school environment. It also helped with better communication between the people involved, as mental health isn’t an area that students and staff

have approached together in school before. As well as this, we had an activity involving a person’s ‘window of the world’ which allowed the staff to see how students in lower school may view a problem differently to how adults would view it, as well as with the students doing the course being able to see how staff view problems surrounding mental health.

A few weeks after completing the course, four students from the group met with the school’s Safeguarding Governor, Alan Rankin, to discuss how to implement these strategies from the course in school. For example, all the students who took part in the course have different coloured student lanyards to identify that we are mental health ambassadors and that any student with a worry in school can approach us at any time. We are planning to hold lunchtime sessions in different classrooms to create a safe space for students in which they can do different things such as: completing homework, playing board games or talking to each other/members of Sixth Form about any worries they may have.

With Mental Health Awareness week coming up in May, we would like to get as many people in school as possible involved in the awareness of mental health issues. This may include: activities in personal development time, fundraising events such as cake sales for mental health organisations including Mind, Samaritans or Time to Change, or activities in art lessons such as painting rocks to create a pathway in

which students or staff can go if they feel stressed.

Ann-Marie Steel enjoyed working with us and said: “It was a pleasure to work with two teams of enthusiastic students and teachers together. We covered some very emotive subjects and they all showed great empathy and confidentiality towards each other.

“I praise Cockermouth School for making Youth Mental Health a priority and I am looking forward to working with them again to help them with their future plans.”

We are really pleased to have been given the chance to carry out this training and we are excited at the opportunities that this has opened up to us. We look forward to the whole school community benefitting from an increased awareness of mental health issues and to supporting those who may benefit from the strategies we are implementing in school.

Students and staff involved: Ellie Anderson, Chloe Bovington, Hannah Bowen, Fawn Chastney, Jasmine Dean, Ewan Hatch, Grace Law, Lexie Lory, Gavin McDonald, Aimee Morley, Katie Morris, Tom Roberts, Billy Robinson, Caitlin Simpson, Kim Sunley, Jamie Telford, Alex Tyrell, Lauren Wild, Mrs. Bamforth, Mr. Carter, Miss Fox, Mrs. Hampson, Miss A Messenger, Mrs. S Messenger, Mrs. Mitchinson, Mr. Milledge, Mrs. Murdoch, Mr. Murray, Miss Priest, Mrs. S Taylor and Mrs. Todhunter.

Katie Morris and Jamie Telford

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ISSUE 425 | 26 APRIL 2018 | 44

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