Cheshire East Youth Council hosted their second annual mental health conference called ‘Taboo’ recently to discuss how best to support children and young people across the borough.
The youth council named the conference ‘Taboo’ to highlight the stigma that is attached to mental ill health, which can often lead to making the issue more difficult for young people to manage.
The virtual event brought together nearly 140 delegates including around 80 children and young people from 16 schools and frontline professionals from the council, health and community organisations. On the day young people took the opportunity to discuss mental health issues that affect them and the ways in which professionals can best support them.
During the event, workshops were delivered on topics such as coping with exam stress, learning disabilities and mental health, and wellbeing for education as communities recover from the Covid pandemic.
Cheshire East Council, the youth council and partners have been working together to develop services that support the priority of happiness and mental health since the formation of the Cheshire East Children’s Trust in 2015.
Listening to, and acting on, what children, young people and their families say, is a key element of their plans.
Ruben Barrow, Cheshire East member of youth parliament, said: “Cheshire East Youth Council decided that we needed to do something to address mental health as it’s a really big issue for young people. Our Taboo conference was an opportunity to challenge decision-makers, learn how to help yourself and who to go to if you need support.
“Feedback has been really positive with many attendees saying that they were more knowledgeable about mental health and who to go to if they needed help."
Jasmine Ward, Cheshire East member of youth parliament, said: “Our second annual mental health conference has again been a real success. The event was all about listening to the experiences of young people and working together with schools and services to provide help and support, including how to cope with stress and worrying.”
Councillor Kathryn Flavell, lead member for children and families at Cheshire East Council, said: “We continue to work together with children and young people and our partners to deliver improvements to social, emotional, mental health and wellbeing services across the borough.
“We know that the disruption to education and the Covid pandemic has had a lasting impact on some children and young people. During the event we heard how they are often feeling frustrated, angry, scared, anxious and alone.
“I want to reassure them, that there is help and support out there. I urge anyone who is not OK - take the first steps and talk to someone today, we are in this together and lots of young people are feeling the same as you.”
To seek mental health support, children, young people and their families can find help at the council’s online mental health information point: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/mentalhealthinfopoint