Local schoolchildren have been enjoying some football training.
AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust teamed up with local NHS staff to run sessions for local school pupils as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.
Bournemouth-based King’s Park Academy and Oak Academy students got the chance to play football drills and games, learning new skills to move beyond their comfort zones while working in a team.
The sessions were devised with Dorset HealthCare’s Mental Health Support in Schools Teams (MHST) service and centred around the theme of the week: growing together.
Afterwards, pupils were able to chat and ask questions of AFC Bournemouth female players Helen Corbin and Jade Bradley about managing mental health, emotional wellbeing, resilience and overcoming challenges.
Pupils also have on-going access to the MHST schools service, which focuses on the emotional wellbeing of children aged five-18.
The service has been running for just over two years and is currently working with schools in Wimborne, Ferndown, Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Blandford, Gillingham, Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester,
There are plans for the service to expand this year with the aim of supporting more than 100 Dorset schools by the end of the year.
Nova Bovaird, clinical lead (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) for the MHST service, said: “Our team works with schools to help children feel more resilient, giving them with techniques to look after themselves and strategies to help them cope better with life’s ups and downs.
“This includes support for things like mild to moderate anxiety or low mood, worries, exam stress and friendship issues, usually through counselling sessions, themed group work or information workshops.
“We also help school staff to think about ways they can support pupils to remain mentally healthy, as well as focussing on staff wellbeing when needed.”
Jenni Philipps, inclusion manager and senior deputy designated safeguarding lead at Oak Academy, said: “The MHST service has been exceptional in delivering support to our students. We have observed a positive impact in the emotional presentation, resilience and all-round wellbeing in students who have accessed this support.
“We are very grateful to work closely with the service, and recognise the difference it has had on the wellbeing of many of our students.”
Children and young people can access support from the MHST by speaking to a teacher or designated mental health lead. School staff and parents can also contact the team if they have any concerns about a pupil.
Dorset HealthCare offers a wide range of mental health support for all ages – visit www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/takeastep to find out more, or call the Trust’s 24/7 Connection phone line (0800 652 0190) or NHS 111 for urgent support.
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