Sheffield Telegraph launches schools mental health charter

The Sheffield Telegraph has launched a schools mental health charter as part of our Let's Talk campaign.

It is hoped to create awareness through the charter, reduce stigma and highlight some of the brilliant work already being carried out by the city's schools.

Launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter. Picture Scott Merrylees

Launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter. Picture Scott Merrylees

According to charity Young Minds, one in 10 children, so roughly three children in every classroom, have a diagnosable mental health condition, and half of mental health problems manifest themselves by the age of 14.

And while the issue of mental health difficulties in adults, something that affects 25 per cent of the population, is finally being brought to the fore, the same sadly cannot be said for awareness of the issue among children and young people. 

With that in mind, the Sheffield Telegraph has spent the last eight months consulting with young people, schools and multiple organisations to create a mental health charter we hope every school in the city will sign up to. 

The charter was launched at a special event at The Virgin Lounge in the city centre which was attended by young people and many of the schools, charities and organisations which worked with us on it.

Representatives from schools, charities and organisations at launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter, along with Telegraph reporters Sarah Marshall and Sam Jackson, content editor Julia Ridgerson and editor Nancy Fielder. Picture Scott Merrylees

Representatives from schools, charities and organisations at launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter, along with Telegraph reporters Sarah Marshall and Sam Jackson, content editor Julia Ridgerson and editor Nancy Fielder. Picture Scott Merrylees

It is hoped that every school in Sheffield will sign up to the charter and pledge to raise awareness of the mental health issues among children and young people.

Sheffield Telegraph editor Nancy Fielder said: "We are proud to launch the Sheffield Schools Mental Health Charter.

"It has been developed through consultations with young people, charities and organisations across the city and we hope it will go some way in raising awareness of mental health in children and young people.

"The charter has been broken down into eight headings, which we hope schools will interpret in their own way.

Young people from charities and schools help launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter, alongside Telegraph reporters Sam Jackson and Sarah Marshall.  Picture Scott Merrylees

Young people from charities and schools help launch of the Sheffield Telegraph Schools Mental Health Charter, alongside Telegraph reporters Sam Jackson and Sarah Marshall. Picture Scott Merrylees

"Our schools are already doing lots of great work around mental health and, as well as raising awareness, we hope the charter and our campaign will help showcase some of the brilliant work already being done in Sheffield."

Over the last eight months the Sheffield Telegraph has held three roundtables to gain a better understanding of adolescent mental health before compiling the charter.

The first was with charities and organisations involved in mental health -  South Yorkshire Eating Disorder Association, a young people's counselling and emotional wellbeing support service Interchange Sheffield, Sheffield Council and youth charities Sheffield Futures and Endeavor.  

The second was with young people from Sheffield Futures, including some of Sheffield's representatives on the UK Youth Parliament.

And the third involved speaking with schools across the city to discuss adolescent mental health and what is, and should be, done to ensure pupils are given as much support as possible. The schools involved were Fir Vale School, Tapton School, Sheffield Girls High School and Bradway Primary.

Young people from charities Chilypep and Sheffield Futures were shown the charter along with schools and asked to give their feedback on any areas of improvement. NHS's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services were also involved.

At the launch a short video, created with the help of pupils from Sheffield Girls High School and Bradway Primary, was shown.

Any schools interested in signing up to the charter should contact either sarah.marshall@jpress.co.uk or sam.jackson@jpress.co.uk

Every school who signs up will be presented with a charter to display in their school.

Let's Talk: Sheffield Schools Mental Health Charter

 –  Stamp out stigma

Start talking about mental health. Encourage staff and pupils to talk openly and honestly and ensure that young people are given the opportunity to talk 

–  Educate don't discriminate 

Try and put mental health on the curriculum and train school staff so children can be supported, not discriminated against or labelled 

–  Time to listen

Provide a safe environment for children to go to to speak about their issues if they wish. This could be a teacher, a dedicated email address, a peer mental health ambassador or a worry box
–  Increase support

Help young people alleviate some of the educational pressures they face. Increase support available at critical times such as exams and school or key stage transitions

–  Next Move 

Help to signpost some of the services available in Sheffield, and within the school's locality and offer support to help pupils access them

–  Openness 

Create an open and inclusive culture which displays respect and understanding for those with mental health problems  

–  Words of Wisdom 

Educate the school community about language which stigmatises mental health issues, and those suffering from them 

 –  Parents 

Reach out to parents about the prevalence of mental health problems among young people, and work together to guide and care for those affected by them