Commonwealth Bronze Medallist for hockey and Youth Sport Trust athlete mentor, Charlotte Hartley, visited students from Philips High in Whitefield recently, to raise awareness of the importance of mental health as part of the Greater Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools Project.
Her visit was part of a pilot project, commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, to provide specialist mental health support for both pupils and teachers in primary and secondary schools across Greater Manchester.
The athlete, who also represented Great Britain in the 2007 Sydney Youth Olympics where her team won gold, has been working with pupils to provide advice to help improve their confidence and reach their full potential. Drawing on her own experiences of being bullied at school for being good at sport and competing at a high level, Charlotte has also been offering the students coaching in key life skills such as growing self-esteem, learning creative thinking skills and how to develop coping strategies for challenges.
The scheme involving 64 schools to date is a collaboration between Alliance for Learning Teaching School, Place2Be, children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and 42nd Street.
Recent research has shown that physical activity boosts mental wellbeing, reduces anxiety and improves mood. Through workshops with Youth Sport Trust athlete mentors and Place2Be, young people are being supported to build their confidence and reach their full potential.
Alliance For Learning, the teaching school part of the Bright Futures Educational Trust, has trained the school leadership teams in mental health first aid, while the project has offered schools guidance on how to work more effectively with children and young people experiencing mental health problems. The scheme has also provided a simpler, easier way to refer into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Charlotte Hartley, Youth Sport Trust athlete mentor, says: “The Greater Manchester Healthy Schools Pilot really is making a difference to young people and I was pleased to see how the sessions encouraged students to open up. I take great pride in the part I play in motivating and inspiring young people to take up sport and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Whilst at high school, I would have loved the opportunity to meet someone who had competed at a high level. For me, it’s a great way of sharing my experiences and knowledge to educate and help others choose the right paths in life.”
Headteacher at Philips High, Tina Owen, says: “Our students have really benefitted from this project and the support we have received from Youth Sport Trust and Place2Be has been excellent. As a school, we feel we do a lot to support wellbeing already, but the extra training in mental health first aid and the student workshops have enhanced our provision. It is fantastic to see the links between mental health, sport and physical activity being made explicit too.”