Wales

Welsh schools mental health scheme to 'tackle stigma'

Child with head on knees Image copyright Thinkstock

A campaign to encourage conversation about mental health among children and young people has been launched.

Time to Change Wales, started in 2012 to raise mental health awareness among adults, will run a young people's programme.

It will initially work with pupils, teachers and parents at nine schools, using Big Lottery funding.

Programme manager Lowri Wyn Jones said it was important to tackle mental health "stigma" at a young age.

One in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem, Time to Change Wales said, with the associated stigma and discrimination often making life "even harder".

The scheme will pilot in three schools in south Wales - Blackwood Comprehensive, Mountain Ash Comprehensive, and Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda - with others in mid and north Wales to follow.

It will feature "young champions" - people with experience of mental health problems who will share their stories - and resources to help people talk about mental health.

Ms Wyn Jones, said: "Mental ill health is something that can affect all of us, regardless of how old you are, which is why it's so important to start challenging the stigma associated with it from an early age.

"We're positive that, by working closely with schools across Wales, we can help young people develop the confidence to talk more openly about mental health, whether at school, with friends or at home."

'Talking saved me'

Image copyright Time to Change

Time to Change Wales champion Laura Moulding, 20, from Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, has lived with severe depression with psychotic symptoms for as long as she can remember.

At age seven or eight, she realise hearing voices was not something everyone experienced, but she kept it a secret and her mental health got worse.

She said: "I was 15 when I finally told my mum about my mental health. Comparing my life all those years ago to now, I can honestly say that talking saved me.

"I was afraid to speak up before. Nowadays, I am grateful to have support from my family, boyfriend and friends."

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: "I would encourage young people to seek help and talk with someone they trust, whether it's a member of the family, a friend, a counsellor or a trusted teacher.

"Where there are mental health issues it is really important to get help early, to help prevent problems from escalating."

The start of the campaign will be marked by a special assembly at Blackwood Comprehensive School on Wednesday morning, with a series of workshops for Year 9 pupils.

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