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‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ praised at national awards

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A multi-agency project aimed at improving the mental health of children and young people across Cheshire East was highly commended in the Local Government Chronicle awards at a national award ceremony held in London last week.

The ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project has been running for two years and is supported by a number of agencies – including local schools, Cheshire East Council, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG and NHS South Cheshire CCG along with the charities Visyon and Just Drop In.

The project focuses on improving resilience across schools and aims to develop teaching staff to ensure they meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of their students.

At the ceremony, more than 1,000 of the most senior figures in British local government celebrated the sector’s greatest innovators.

The event was hosted by journalist and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, with 20 award categories presented to councils innovating to ensure they best serve their residents.

Cllr Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “We are pleased and proud to have received a special commendation in the LGC awards for our work in promoting emotionally healthy schools.

“The project is an innovative and direct response to address the mental health needs of the children and young people of Cheshire East.

“This special commendation would not have been received without the hard work and determination of our partners in schools, health and the third sector.

“Special mention and thanks needs to be given to Keith Simpson of Middlewich High School whose passion and drive resulted in over 75% of our schools engaged in the project and it is anticipated that by December 100% of our schools will be on board.”

Keith Simpson, strategic lead for the project and head teacher at Middlewich High School said: “The ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project aims to allow every young person to thrive in our ever complex, ever changing world.

“This strategic coordinated approach has united the local authority, education, health and the voluntary sector in providing our young people access to appropriate and timely responses ranging from maintaining a healthy mind to dealing with acute crisis.

“By working in partnership and training adults on the front line the impact has been that they are now better equipped and more confident in providing suitable advice and support.”

He added: “This has streamlined the access to health services meaning they are more able to function with high risk young people, while early help and prevention is being taught through schools and other learning organisations.”

One young person, who preferred to remain anonymous, commented: “More than anything else in the world, every teenager just wants to feel ‘normal’ so that they can fit in.

“The ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project has taught us that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ as everyone is different and we all think and feel in different ways.”

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