Haggerston School wins praise from government over pioneering mental health project

Ellie Marie Bunn with education minister Damian Hinds.

Ellie Marie Bunn with education minister Damian Hinds. - Credit: Archant

A school that piloted a pioneering mental health programme won praise from the education secretary last month.

Damian Hinds visited Haggerston School in one of his last jaunts before resigning from the cabinet when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

He was there to hear about the success of the Link Programme, an early intervention project run by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

Its success across 1,500 schools now means it will be rolled out nationally as a £9.3million programme.

Student Dorcas Adelaja, 15, says the programme helped her overcome her anxiety issues and she has since taken part in a public speaking competition.

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She said: "When you have a problem there is someone to talk about it and they can help. A lot of teenagers suffer with mental health stuff, whether it be exam stress, body image or peer pressure.

"But being able to talk to someone has really helped me and other students at the school. Getting up in front of an audience and speaking like that is not something I ever thought I would be able to do."

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Mr Hinds said teachers did a great job in supporting students, but they should not be expected to act as mental health experts.

"That's why this new training is important, by bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals and encouraging them to work together," he said.

Haggerston head Ciara Emmerson said: "For us it has been about improving on our existing mental health offering so we know every student now has exactly the support they need."

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