MP Norman Lamb speaks to Newham pupils about innovative mental health programme Headstart

PUBLISHED: 13:33 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:41 11 December 2017

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP for North Norfolk visited two schools in Newham to meet with young people working on the HeadStart programme. Picture: Headstart Newham

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP for North Norfolk visited two schools in Newham to meet with young people working on the HeadStart programme. Picture: Headstart Newham

Headstart Newham

A former mental health minister has praised Newham pupils who are supporting their peers with better mental wellbeing.

Pupils pose with MP Norman Lamb during the visit.. Picture: Headstart Newham Pupils pose with MP Norman Lamb during the visit.. Picture: Headstart Newham

MP Norman Lamb met with students, staff and parents at Southern Road Primary School and Lister Community School - both based in Plaistow - who are participating in HeadStart sessions.

The programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Newham Council, is a preventative early help service working with young people aged 10 to 16 who have emerging mental health difficulties.

Mr Lamb, who chairs the science and technology select committee that aims to drive improvements in mental health provision, said: “It’s great to see young people taking the lead in improving their mental health.

“Headstart Newham is a brilliant National Lottery-funded initiative. It gives students, along with their parents and teachers, the opportunity to shape solutions to the challenges they face – and engage with the most pressing issue of day: improving adolescent mental health.”

Since its launch in September 2016, Headstart has reached 29 schools and almost 500 young people.

More than 130 parents have signed up for parenting courses which provide a relaxed, informal atmosphere for guardians to help and learn from one another.

In addition, 1,644 of school staff in the borough have received training to identify pupils who could benefit from extra support to improve their mental resilience.

This enables staff to spot the early signs of problems so they can provide young people with the tools they need.

Youngsters requiring specialised help also receive signposting of relevant services under the programme.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “With mental health issues estimated to affect one in ten young people nationally, effective programmes are extremely important.

“We want to ensure that we support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, as they grow up, as well as their physical health.”

Mr Lamb visited the schools on December 7. Headstart is one of six projects backed by the Big Lottery Fund, which is investing £54 million in aiding mental wellbeing.

Funding was announced in July 2016 by cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Rev Quintin Peppiatt.

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