Teenagers across West Yorkshire will be asked to re-think their attitudes to mental health this week as learning experts CragRats tour schools and colleges in Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield.
South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust has commissioned CragRats to help encourage an interest in mental well being and explode the myths surrounding issues like self-harm, eating disorders and anger management.
Around 1400 16-19 year olds at 8 schools will experience a series of thought provoking theatrical scenarios and interactive workshops. They have been purposely designed to get young people thinking about mental ill-health and how it might affect any one of us.
Figures on mental health show that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year and about 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time.
CragRats Theatre in Education expert Lindsay Richards says: "Mental health issues impact on so many people’s lives so it is really important that young people have an understanding of what mental illness is and that they are encouraged to discuss the issues around it openly."
South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust is applying to be a Foundation Trust – a different type of NHS organisation based on membership and young people will be encouraged to join the Trust as members and to and have a say on how mental health and learning disability services are provided. The trust already has almost 9000 members across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield and in the wider Yorkshire and the Humber area.
Bronwyn Gill, Head of Communications for the Trust said: ‘We want to encourage young people to take an interest in their own mental health and to develop empathy for those around them who experience mental health problems. Working with Cragrats in school settings provides the opportunity to stimulate interest and to promote membership of our Trust to give young people a say in how services develop in the future. We hope that, though education, we can also help reduce the stigma people with mental health problems too often experience.’
South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust was also the first to use Facebook to connect with local people. The Trust’s Facebook group is for people who are members of the Trust or who are interested in becoming a member. They can join in discussions, or start one of their own and make new contacts with like minded people.