It’s OK To Say: St Albans Youth Council demands more mental health provision for teens

PUBLISHED: 13:14 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:14 23 November 2018

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A youth group has demanded more mental health counsellors in schools to benefit the wellbeing of pupils in St Albans.

The Herts Ad has partnered with anxiety specialist Stacey Turner for the It’s OK To Say campaign, which encourages people to speak out about their mental health.

Eight members of St Albans Youth Council made a plea at a public meeting for counsellors to work within schools and help pupils cope with exam stress and other pressures.

The youth councillors, all aged 11 to 19, met with councillors from the district council’s two scrutiny committees on Tuesday, November 13.

Youth Cllr Niamh McGrath said that “every pupil could benefit” from specialist help due to the intense pressure they are under. The young people also argued that having counselling in schools rather than outside would mean the pupils involved would not have to miss lessons.

As well as demanding more mental health provision in schools, they called for efforts to tackle social isolation among teens by offering activities in the summer holidays, and asked for campaigns to raise awareness about the needs of young adults with learning disabilities.

Youth Cllr Arian Cani said some young people become socially isolated during holidays and spend hours on social media or playing computer games. He called for the council to set up a focus group to find out what opportunities teens would like to be offered.

Bethany Chan, another member of the youth council, wanted to improve young people’s understanding of learning disabilities and help them gain insight into the reasons behind behaviour.

The youth councillors also asked for an extension of the Young Health Champions scheme to cover children under 13. Youth Cllr Tiffany Osibanjo said that despite the scheme having many positive impacts, there was “strong evidence” it needed to be extended.

Mental health champion Cllr Anthony Rowlands, who chaired the meeting, said: “The Youth Council made an outstanding presentation and raised many important issues.

“Councillors at the meeting agreed we will now consider all the issues raised by the Youth Council and prepare a response, detailing the other actions we will undertake to deal with their concerns.”

The Herts Ad has partnered with anxiety specialist Stacey Turner on the It’s OK To Say campaign, which encourages people to speak out about their mental health.

Stacey responded to the Youth Council’s initiative: “If we look at a child aged four to six settling into school, often we can be assured that in time, any anxieties will settle, however many people don’t know it’s extremely common for it to reappear at 11-13 due to educational pressures and social demands.

“We absolutely need counsellors in schools understanding behaviours not only guiding teachers appropriately in the best interests of the pupils, but to provide the support on this bumpy road, making an essential difference to the educational experience.”

Follow the campaign on social media:
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Instagram: its_ok_to_say

Twitter: @ItsOKToSayUK
Website: www.itsoktosay.org.uk (coming soon!)

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