Cornwwall Council is awarded £500k from Big Lottery HeadStart programme to help address children’s mental health issues

It is always great to finish off a busy week with some very good news. Today, I can announce that the Big Lottery has awarded Cornwall Council £500k for the Council’s HeadStart programme. This money will allow the Council with its local partnerships to work up plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of the programme. We are talking about figures of £10m for the most successful bids. I previously blogged about HeadStart HERE.

Children’s mental health is a national issue. I have been concerned with the provision in Cornwall since I took up post. This resulted in the CAHMS report that highlighted the many issues of service provision, but more importantly, serious action points. This is backed up by a previous YouGov survey[1], commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund, which revealed that 45% of children ages 10-14 have reported unable to sleep because of stress or worry; with 50% saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week.

It is not good enough that only 25% of needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it, and usually only once they reach 18. This must change. This is why the award of £500k is so important and will set us on the path of address the many inequalities surrounding children’s mental health.

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.

The funding announced today will support a 12 months pilot project involving young people in the Penzance, Hayle and St Ives area and Saltash, Liskeard, Looe, Torpoint and Callington. The results of this pilot will then be used to work up long-term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

I am over the moon with this crucial investment from the Big Lottery Fund to involve young people in the design and re-shaping of services to prevent the onset of mental ill-health has come at an important time for the Council. I look forward to working with young people and our partners to improve support and intervention in school, in the community and at home which will enable children, particularly those who are more vulnerable. This will help deal with the challenges of growing up and support a healthy life into adulthood.

This is fantastic news to end the week with.

[1]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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