Pupils Pen Poems to Reduce Mental Health Stigma
Pupils at St Helens Council’s Tuition Service have been working with a local poet ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May), to create poems centred around raising awareness of the mental and emotional health challenges that young people in St Helens can experience.
Published poet, Lynn Gerrard, visited Tuition Service in College Street which helps pupils with complex and/or medical needs return to mainstream provision, to carry out a poetry workshop with pupils with the aim of exploring free verse and the cathartic liberation poetry writing provides, to ultimately produce a piece of work which will be performed on World Mental Health Day (10 October, 2017).
Donna Melling, English teacher at Tuition Service, said: "This project is integral to everything we do here at Tuition. The students have responded with enthusiasm and are rising to the challenge in an amazing fashion. Our pupils are given the freedom to explore the challenges they face in a safe environment and this project just highlights that. I can see the pupils growing in confidence, but above all else, they have had fun exploring the power of words."
Lynn, a mental health activist who has battled mental health, added: “It must be noted that, given my own mental health issues, I can only hope that I am helping these talented students as much as they are helping me.”
Earlier this year, Tuition Service showed its commitment to raising mental health and wellbeing awareness by becoming an ‘emotionally healthy’ school.
St Helens Emotionally Healthy Schools Project, supported by St Helens Council and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, has been introduced as part of the Local Transformation Plan for Children’s Mental Health services and is based on national guidance developed by Public Health England alongside the Department for Education.
At Tuition’s healthy schools launch in March, parents and guardians were introduced to external agencies through a market place event which gave them the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns about their children.
Rob Vaughan, Teacher in Charge at the Tuition Service said: "It's fantastic that we are part of the Emotionally Healthy Schools project. Our students are at the heart of everything we do here and have offered brilliant ideas as to how we can help reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental and emotional health challenges that they can experience. I'm excited to see the students' ideas come to life and to see the impact the project will have on everybody here at Tuition."