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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Catholic school teachers get mental health training

Teachers at a Catholic high school in Stafford were among some of the first to receive special training to deal with pupils’ mental health problems.

Staff at a number of schools have begun to receive the training as part of the Prime Minister’s drive to tackle the “burning injustices” in society.

Over the next three years some 3,000 staff, covering every secondary school in England, will receive advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm and eating disorders.

The programme, announced in January, is delivered by social enterprise Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, backed by £200,000 of government cash and will be extended to primary schools by 2022.

Blessed William Howard Catholic High School, part of Holy Trinity Catholic Multi Academy Company, recently hosted a Youth MHFA one-day course for a dozen staff from several different schools in the nearby region. The staff learned how to provide mental health support to students on a first aid basis in order to facilitate early intervention and recovery.

Once fully trained, these staff will take on roles as Youth MHFA Champions in their respective schools.

Mark Millinchip, assistant headteacher and safeguarding officer at Blessed William Howard, said the school was delighted to be one of the first in the country to be involved in the programme.

“Around one in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health issue – roughly three children in every classroom – so upskilling frontline school staff to be able to support these children is crucially important,” he said.

Theresa May has said that the programme will make a “real difference to children’s lives”.

She said: “Tackling poor mental health is a huge challenge, and we will keep our promises and meet that challenge with the comprehensive cross-society response that is required.”

Picture: Teachers at Blessed William Howard Catholic High School hold MHFA booklets.