London has been voted the “best perceived” city in the world. The dynamic capitol city has triumphed over the likes of Paris and New York in a recent study based on a variety of factors, which include infrastructure, entertainment, culture, health and general happiness. The poll, conducted just months before the UK’s vote to leave the EU, saw a diverse mix of over five-thousand well-educated adults agree that London also emerged as the best in terms of living up to its perception.
In spite of this ‘accolade’ almost 80,000 children and young people are suffering from severe depression in the UK. 1 in 10 children and young people (aged 5-16) suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – which equates to a minimum of 3 cases in each school class. For 1 in 12 children and young people, this leads to deliberate self-harm, a figure that has increased by an astonishing 68% in the last ten years.
The National Children’s Bureau (NCB), an umbrella body for organisations working with children and young people in the UK, have recently launched a ‘mental health toolkit’ for schools to tackle the “rapidly changing and demanding pressures and expectations” students and staff face. The toolkit aims to unite schools in the combat and prevention of widespread mental health issues through raising awareness, teaching social and emotional skills and targeted work for those in difficulty. Enver Solomon, director of external affairs at the NCB comments on the effect “… supporting children and young people’s emotional health” can “… enhance attainment levels, reduce exclusions and re-engage students who may have experienced problems”
The Engage, Influence and Inspire programme builds on such values. The programme delivers prevention sessions to raise the aspirations of young people, challenging their thought processes, beliefs and attitudes in order to promote attitudinal and behavioural changes, which are sustainable therefore reducing the potential for exclusion, offending and anti-social behaviour.
A great strength of the programme is its ability to cut right through perceptions, creating a safe space for young people to express themselves and giving them permission to change their school identity. We are under no illusion the difficulties our children and young people face on a day-to-day basis, however we are confident that with targeted attention and support, we are investing in the lives of generations to come.
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