Teens become mental health ambassadors

Source: Sunderland Echo / Sue Kirby

Sixth formers Chloe Manuel and Phoebe Hedley, have been appointed the mental health ambassadors at Whitburn CE Academy.

The girls both spoke at the first conference in the North East to address mental health in the region’s schools.

Chloe and Phoebe received wide acclaim from the 200-strong delegates at Mental Health Issues Amongst School Children in the North East, an event co-ordinated by the Prince Bishops Teaching School Alliance, led by Benedict Biscop Church of England Academy, Sunderland and Whitburn Church of England Academy, South Tyneside.

Both pupils addressed delegates – including key note speaker, Natasha Devon MBE, who was outspoken during her brief period as the government’s first mental health champion – on the spiralling levels of anxiety, stress and depression being detected amongst primary and secondary school students.

According to charity Young Minds, three children in every classroom have a diagnosed mental illness and one in 10 will develop an eating disorder before their 25th birthday.

Hospitalisations from self-harm and eating disorders have doubled in the past three years and in some parts of the country rates of childhood depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are up by 600%.

Chloe, said: “The conference was very inspiring and along with highlighting the extent of mental health issues there was a tangible desire from all who attended to go back to their schools and look at initiatives and strategies that could be put in place to tackle the problem.

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