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Oldham Youngsters Speak Out on Mental Health

Oldham youngsters aged from 5 to 18 spoke out about their concerns about social media, the pressure of exams and bullying among other things.

More than 3,000 young people took part in one of the largest consultations ever seen in the UK to help tackle mental health issues.

Key findings included:

  •         60% of secondary aged students either know someone who has been bullied or have been bullied themselves
  •         8 out of 10 pupils felt that their teachers listen to them about bullying and help them deal with the issues
  •         80% of young people felt that perceived pressure in school was a problem
  •        Three-quarters of young people in secondary schools believe that social media places pressure on them to look perfect
  •        4 out of ten young people have spoken to people they do not know online

The results will be used to help Oldham Council provide a better mental health service for Oldham Youngsters. Mental health nurses are now working in almost every school in the borough.

Cllr Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Children said: “It is clear that young people across the country are facing challenges that affect their mental health. It is important that as a council we have been able to give these young people a voice so we can understand the issues better.

‘It is vital that we can all have an honest conversation and that we don’t duck away from difficult feedback.”

Oldham Youth Council

Oldham Youngsters from the Oldham Youth Council designed the consultation and helped to train 95 teenagers as research champions who then carried out the survey. Many of these are now being trained as mental health ambassadors. They will go to go into schools to talk to and support other young people.

In total five high schools and 20 primary schools took part in the survey. Oldham Opportunity Area funded the survey.

In 2017 the Oldham Opportunity Area (OA) launched as one of 12 OAs by the government to raise education standards. It brings together national and local government, education leaders, teachers, voluntary organisations and employers. Together the goal is to ensure children and young people in the borough get the opportunities and support they need and deserve.

The council has already begun to draw up a list of actions. This will address the issues raised by young people and are looking at funding for these.

List of Actions:

  • Employment of a Youth Worker. To visit schools to share findings and good practice. To also monitor if schools and colleges have implemented any activity as a result of the report.
  • Development of a training programme. This is for young people to develop the skills and knowledge to become Mental Health Ambassadors in their schools.
  • A school conference, led by Mental Health Ambassadors, to share best practice and learning.
  • A theatre production and workshops devised and led by young people to tour around schools exploring issues of emotional wellbeing.
  • Learning from the consultation will be shared with the relevant organisations and staff. This is to ensure it informs future plans, commissions and strategies in the borough.
  • Working in partnership with the Oldham Schools Mental Wellbeing Team. The council and young people will jointly create and implement a staff professional development programme. This will help to help teachers better understand young people’s needs.
  • Working in partnership with the Oldham Schools Mental Wellbeing Team. To support schools to embed the ‘student voice’ in decision making in school and college mental wellbeing provision.

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