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Teenagers focus on mental health

Posted onPosted on 19th May

A range of innovative ideas to raise awareness about young people’s mental health issues and ways to deal with and help tackle them have been devised by teenagers from across Ashfield.

The work was the result of the widely-discussed issue being chosen as the theme for the district’s Dragons’ Den-style project.
Since October, experts from Young Minds, a charity committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people, spent time in all Ashfield secondary schools.

The project culminated in a finals day that saw teams from schools present ideas on how they would promote emotional health and well-being, and build resilience to prevent crimes such as bullying, cyber-bullying, relationship abuse, child sexual exploitation and hate crime.

Hosted by Kirkby College and supported with funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Nottinghamshire County Council Community Safety Committee and Ashfield Community Partnership, the event saw teenagers perform songs they had written, describe online apps they had created, and explain ways teenagers could anonymously get help with mental health issues.

Their ideas were put to a panel that included Dan Howitt, head of research and information in the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner; Gabrielle Jones, Nottinghamshire Youth Commission Co-ordinator; and David Sneath, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.

Ashfield School, Kirkby, was the winner. Their clear messages, plans to roll their campaign out, ways in which it had been evaluated and financial planning were all praised by the “dragons”.

They were awarded a £1,000 cash prize, which is to be used to transform their campaign ideas into reality.
Also chosen as a winner was the team from Quarrydale Academy, Sutton, who carried off both the innovation award, for which they received £500, and the £500 student vote prize.

A simple video and their hashtag #fineisneverenough were among elements of their entry to be praised.

The Dragons Den-style project was created eight years ago to encourage young people to think and talk about crime and anti-social behaviour, with a specific theme chosen each year.

Six schools — Ashfield School; Holgate Academy, Hucknall; Kirkby College, Quarrydale Academy, Selston High School and The National C of E Academy, Hucknall — took part in the competitive element of the Dragons’ Den-style project. Sutton Academy benefited from input by Young Minds but did not enter the final stage of the competition.

A planning group led by Nottinghamshire County Council community safety officer Leah Sareen and including representatives from Ashfield schools, the police, the county council and Ashfield Community Partnership met regularly to plan and monitor various stages of the project.

Leah said: “For young people today, growing up in an ever-complex world, the challenge for them is to navigate real life with the online world. As boundaries blur, maintaining a positive state of mental health is key.

“If we provide a learning platform for young people to have space to be innovative and channel their natural entrepreneurial talents, they address key issues head on. This year’s Dragons’ Den-style project proved this.”