Children and young people who “feel that their voices are heard and can make a difference have a greater sense of community and self-esteem”, according to Place2Be. The children and young people’s mental health charity launched Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in 2015 and its aim is to “empower, equip and give a voice” to children and young people across the UK.

The theme of this year’s awareness week, which runs from 5 February to 11 February, is ‘My Voice Matters’, a concept that is central to a North East multi-educational trust’s health and wellbeing strategy.

Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, which has 25 primary schools and five secondary schools in South Tyneside, East Durham and Sunderland, now has a Senior Designated Mental Health Lead in all of their schools responsible for embedding the whole-school approach to positive mental health in their settings.

Louise Swailes, mental health coordinator at Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (BCCET), says: “At BCCET, we are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider school community.

We have a robust, tiered system of support in place including peer mentors, Mental Health First Aiders, Mental Health Support Teams and counsellors. We promote the 5 Ways to Wellbeing [Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give] to encourage self-care as a proactive, preventative strategy and are continuously upskilling our staff to increase their knowledge and confidence around mental health, to be able to respond appropriately and signpost to the relevant professional support.

We have strong links with specialist, external agencies and are increasing our capacity to offer targeted support within our settings through staff training. We are also committed to improving our universal offer of support which every child receives on a daily basis which is woven through our culture and ethos of inclusion.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘My Voice Matters’ and the child is most definitely at the centre of our mental health offer at BCCET. Pupil voice is key to developing our support package and we now have teams of mental health champions/warriors/ambassadors in our schools who are involved in decision making and the co-creation of policy. It is important that our students feel seen, heard and valued. There will be many activities happening across the Trust during Children’s Mental Health Week to shine a light on mental health and wellbeing, but it is at the centre of what we do every week of the year.

For more information about Children’s Mental Health Week and Place2Be, visit: www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk.

Press release issued by SASS media on behalf of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. For more information, contact Sarah Dale on 07814 976582.