OVER 100 teachers attended the launch event of a new mental health awareness project at Addingham Primary School on June 14.

Schools in the Two Valleys Learning Collaborative have teamed up with Dr Natalie Jewitt, Clinical Psychologist at Jenby's, an Ilkley-based independent psychology service, to take part in the project, with the aim of providing better mental health awareness to families.

The project has been made possible thanks to ‘Essential Skills for Life Funding’ secured through the Bradford Area Opportunity Bid.

Hilary Cave, headteacher of Addingham Primary School, speaking on behalf of the 2VLC Schools said: "All schools will be working closely with Dr Natalie, and our key aim will be to equip teaching staff, pupils and parents with knowledge of how to promote emotional and mental health within school, recognise when a child may require additional support and equip them with tools to manage common child emotional and mental health issues such as: anxiety; stress; friendship problems; bullying; self-esteem; and the ability to understand, manage, and express their feelings.

"Dr Natalie has created a six week course that all schools are planning on delivering with different groups of children. Dr Natalie will be training facilitators from our schools to deliver the sessions. The sessions will focus around anxiety and learning about how to manage feelings and worries. Dr Natalie will also create online home tutorials (www.jenbys.co.uk) for all parents to access.

"We are all really excited about the project launch and believe strongly in the importance of helping young children develop positive mental health strategies."

Dr Natalie said: "I feel immensely proud to be joining with ten fabulous schools who want to put child mental health at the top of their school agendas. The launch event was such a powerful step forward, it was amazing to have ten schools coming together in one room all sharing the same vision to work together to promote and improve their pupils emotional and mental health throughout their primary years and beyond.

"This project aims to change the way we have previously thought about child mental health. It comes from the perspective that with the right training, guidance and support we can all play a significant role in improving children’s emotional and mental health. With that in mind, the Jenby’s and 2VLC in schools project steps away from the traditional approach of only offering interventions to children when they present with difficulties and instead moves things forward by encouraging a preventative whole community approach to helping children understand and look after their mental health everyday. It’s time for mental health to proudly take its place alongside dental and physical health. We don’t just teach our children the importance of brushing their teeth when their teeth are falling out, so we shouldn’t be isolating mental health education and tools to only those children who are struggling, let’s equip and empower all children from an early age."

Primary schools in the 2VLC (Two Valleys Learning Collaborative) are Addingham, All Saints, Ilkley, Ashlands, Burley Oaks, Burley and Woodhead, Ben Rhydding, Sacred Heart, Ilkley, Silsden, Menston and Eastburn. The launch event was also attended by Dr Caroline Rayment, a GP from Burley, who is interested in providing better mental health awareness to families.