New programme offers mental health boost for primary school children

Children in Cherwell are being offered a new six-week support programme to help look after their mental health.

Published: Wednesday, 4th November 2020

The scheme is being delivered by Cherwell District Council in partnership with Oxfordshire Mind and Resilient Young Minds, working with Year 5 and 6 students to help them understand more about stress, anxiety and self-esteem. The initial pilot included 76 youngsters from St. Mary’s School and Dashwood Academy in Banbury as well as Bishop Loveday school in Bodicote.

Cherwell’s Youth Activators deliver the sports and physical activity element of the course, while Oxfordshire Mind host the presentations and workshops.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “youngsters have a lot to deal with at the best of times, with the normal emotional and physical changes they experience as they prepare to head up to secondary school. But COVID has added another layer of confusion which can contribute to anxiety and stress. These courses have been expertly designed to help children understand their feelings and boost their mental health and will prove hugely beneficial in the weeks and months ahead.”

Feedback about the programme showed that 76 per cent of those taking part felt their wellbeing had improved after the course, with 73 per cent saying they would recommend it to their friends. The project is now being rolled out across the district, with a further three schools taking part this term and more lined up for the new year as the programme expands and becomes a fixture in the school calendar

Perry Trafford, children and young people coordinator for Oxfordshire Mind said: “being able to support the Activators with the primary school mental health sessions, was a fantastic opportunity to provide both wellbeing and mental health support for a younger audience. The combination of physical and mental health activities provided both a fun and educational part of the pupils’ week. The programme provided an understanding of why discussing wellbeing and mental health is important for everyone.“