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New programme developed to get children talking about mental health

A new programme is being delivered to encourage primary school children to talk about their mental health.

The Engage! Coventry Mental Health Programme is going into six Coventry primary schools this September to raise awareness of mental health from a young age.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 50 per cent of all mental health problems are estimated to be established by the age of 14, while 70 per cent of children and adolescents who suffer from issues said they had never received intervention prior to their diagnoses.

The six-week schedule combines fun activities and thought-provoking demonstrations to encourage year 5 and 6 pupils to discuss mental health aspects.

Year 5 and 6 classes will receive programmes tailored specifically to their age groups, with a different theme each week.

The year 5 programme will address timekeeping, resilience, stresses in others, anger management, peer-pressure and bullying.

Year 6 topics will deal with workload, anxiety, cyber-bullying, body awareness, exams, and the transition into secondary school.

After taking part in the classroom side of the session, pupils will then proceed onto the field for tag rugby sessions led by Engage! coaches.

The Engage! Mental Health Programme lines up alongside the Engage! Values Programme, which has taught more than 4000 Coventry primary school children life values through the game of rugby over the past two years.

Engage! Sport & Education Coordinator, Stuart Bird spoke of the importance of bringing the topic to light:

Although mental health is finally becoming a less stigmatised subject, we felt that there was still a lot of work to be done with the younger generation.

Hopefully, by making them aware of the issues they may face from an early age, and encouraging them to discuss the topics, they will be better prepared to deal with them as they may start to experience the problems that come with growing up.

By doing this in a group session as opposed to a one-on-one basis, we can hopefully start to get the kids talking – not just to us, but to each other.

We will be working with around 350 students to begin with, but we would love to see that number increase over time and spread the message.

It would be great if, by the end of the programme, knowing how to deal with some of these issues and how to support others becomes second nature to the students.

We’re excited to be delivering this initiative and to be working with the schools to create a much wider awareness in the age group.

The six primary schools currently signed up are: Pearl Hyde, John Shelton, Longford Park, Cannon Park, Mount Nod and Clifford Bridge.

For anyone who would like to sign up to the programme, they can contact Stuart by emailing