Cornwall is to receive £500,000 from the Big Lottery’s HeadStart programme for a project to help young people prevent the onset of mental health issues.

The funding  will support a 12 month pilot project involving young people in the Penzance, Hayle and St Ives area and Saltash, Liskeard, Looe, Torpoint and Callington. The results of this pilot will then be used to work up long term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

In November 2013 the Council was invited by the Big Lottery to submit a bid for funding to help support young people aged between 10-14 years to deal better with difficult circumstances, and help manage emotional and mental health challenges before they become serious issues.

A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18[1].

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This crucial investment from Big Lottery to involve young people in the design and re-shaping of services that help and identify improved ways of working to prevent the onset of mental ill health has come at an important time for the council.

“We look forward to working with young people and our partners to improve support and intervention in school, in the community and at home which will enable children, particularly those who are more vulnerable, to deal with the challenges of growing up and support a healthy life into adulthood. Our young people in Cornwall are, and will continue to be, an integral part of the development of the project."