Cumbria’s Headstart project

Launch success for Cumbria's HeadStart project

A vision to ensure young people in Cumbria have access to all the support they need to promote their emotional wellbeing and mental health was launched last week, with young people taking centre stage.

The event held at the North lakes Hotel, introduced the Whole System Approach – an approach that explains the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is everybody’s business – from teacher to parent, friend to NHS professional. It also launched the Cumbria Headstart campaign which is a Big Lottery backed campaign to build emotional resilience in young people aged 10 -14.

The day was introduced by members of Cumbria’s Youth Parliament. Will Adams from the South Lakes MYP explained why he felt mental health support in young people was important:

“For me mental health means happiness and all young people deserve to be happy. A positive mental attitude will help you succeed at whatever you want to. I firmly believe that young people deserve the best mental health support possible and this will help them be the best they can be.”

Shannon Twiddy is a founding member of the youth council in Eden she said:  
“Over the course of their lifetime 1 in 4 people will have a mental health problems. Half of all mental illness starts before the age of 15, and 75% start before the age of 24.  These stark figures highlight the importance of everyone making mental health and emotional resilience in young people a priority and that everyone needs to make mental health and emotional resilience more visible.” 

The event showed the partnership working between the NHS, schools, the county council, voluntary organisations and the emergency service.

Young people from a number of schools in Cumbria were at the launch and took part in workshops that aimed to make them think about mental health and resilience in a creative way. They included arts and crafts, music and peer to peer support discussing the things they can do to help themselves and their friends.

Some feedback from the youngsters about the day was:

“It made us think about what other people might have that you don’t know about. They look ok from the outside but there may be something on the inside.”

“They talked about skills that we can use in loads of situations not just once.”

“They said it’s ok to not be ok, and I had never thought about that before.”

“I learned about getting back up and learning from your mistakes”

“It has shown that everyone plays a part in mental health and if everyone backs this we can teach everyone in the community and it’ll become less stigmatised.”

Cumbria County Council’s Anne Sheppard is the whole system strategy lead for Cumbria. She said:

“Resilience is the ability to pick yourself up when things go wrong and everyone faces challenges on some level. We want to be able to give our young people the skills they need to improve their resilience and their mental wellbeing, skills that they can carry on into adulthood, into tier work environment into parenthood.”

Lynsey Ormesher, also from Cumbria County Council, is the Cumbria project officer for Headstart she said:

“This is about the positive movement that is trying to take steps to enable our young people to be more resilient and access the support they need when they need it. This is a different world now especially with the pressure of social media, young people are trying to deal with these pressures in their own bedrooms. This is why we need to help people recognise the signs, when is someone’s behaviour just a normal young person growing up and when are they showing signs of withdrawal for example, so we can get the help they need quickly. Everyone has a role, peers, parents, schools, teachers and the health services.”


Russell Norman from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I think this has been a very good and well organised day. The whole system approach is something that our Trust fully back. It’s great to see so many organisations here and the young people. The best way to find out how to connect with youngsters is to ask them.”