A SCHOOL is trialling a new mental health programme which could be rolled out across the North West.

Working with organisation Change Talks, George Hastwell school has been participating in a new programme, aiming to teach children about things like depression, anxiety and the dangers of smoking and drugs.

Sam Tyrer, founder of Change Talks, spoke about how he developed the programme and what he sees in the future.

He said: "Schools are bombarded by so many organisations it gets overwhelming, so we try to bring these organisations together.

"What we’ve done is work to turn resources into an easy read format.

"And we've worked with the school and trained the staff to deliver the content to their pupils.

"It’s been the most rewarding work that I’ve ever done - it’s been really heartwarming."

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Mr Tyrer set up Change Talks after working in Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust as a staff nurse.

He came into contact with many patients who had tried to end their own lives and decided to create an event for the local community to talk openly about their mental health.

From there, he was approached and asked to develop an educational programme for children and young people which has reached 60,000 11-21-year-olds in the past four years.

In the school programme, there are ten different lessons, covering topics such as stress; depression; anxiety; eating disorders; drug awareness; smoking and healthy relationships and abuse.

Anna Diaz, teacher at George Hastwell, said: "We are really excited to be involved with Change Talks.  Mental health awareness is so important, and this is a great opportunity to bring in the expertise and experience from Sam and his team with resources adapted to suit our pupils. 

"We are working initially with a small group, but will be able to continue to use the resources and run the sessions in school following on from the pilot.  Not only will the pupils at George Hastwell benefit, but we hope to be able to contribute to the sessions so that the content will be accessible for young people with learning disabilities across a wide range of settings."

Mr Tyrer explained that students in special educational needs and disability schools can be targeted by grooming due to their perceived high vulnerability.

If successful at George Hastwell, the programme could be expanded to other schools in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Mr Tyrer said: "The best case scenario is that young people learn to cope with mental health challenges, feeling anxious, who to talk to, feeling stressed, healthy relationships, and when someone could be trying to manipulate them."

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