Earlier this December, MP Norman Lamb visited Plaistow students who take part in a supportive mental health programme known as HeadStart.

HeadStart is an innovative scheme provided by the Newham council to help and aid teenagers with mental health issues and advise them on certain problems they may have. This has been made possible due to the funding provided by the Big Lottery Fund. The programme ensures participation from parents and carers and aims to provide professional and specialised help for pupils with signs of deteriorating mental health.

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

The MP, Mr Lamb has an active co-operation in striving to improve mental health for adolescents. He mentioned: “It’s great to see young people taking the lead in improving their mental health.”

HeadStart has secured six partnerships across England in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham and Wolverhampton, working to improve young people’s health with the funding of the Big Lottery Fund which has invested £56 million in assisting in mental health. 130 parents have signed up for parenting courses and 1,644 staff have been trained to identify students who may benefit from this programme.

It is important to understand that young people’s mental health should be as important as their physical well-being. Teenagers of this day experience an immense amount of stress from exams and family struggles and take the impact of meeting social media standards. Campaigns like HeadStart provide a supportive and calm environment for pupils to vent and feel safe. It places young people at the centre of the programme and takes a holistic approach understanding the context and situations of certain issues these adolescents may be dealing with before providing a solution.

Halimah Ali, Lister Community School