New action team on youth mental health calls on community to get involved

Di Fuller from the Wellbeing and Health Action Team. Picture: Terry Ife

Di Fuller from the Wellbeing and Health Action Team. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Young people with mental health problems, including primary school children, are being offered extra help and support in the Sid Valley.

Several initiatives have been introduced by a new Wellbeing and Health Action Team (WHAT), which obtained funding to provide some urgently-needed services.

Now the group is calling on local businesses, voluntary groups and other organisations to come on board, offering financial or practical assistance.

A year ago the Herald reported on a 'crisis' in mental wellbeing among children and teenagers in the Sidmouth area, with many struggling with depression, anxiety and self-harm.

Youth workers and health groups described a vicious circle in which mental health problems arising at a young age were going untreated, instead of being nipped in the bud.

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As a result, anxious children were growing into deeply troubled teenagers who were dropping out of the education system where they might have received the help they needed.

To tackle these problems, a Wellbeing and Health Action Team (WHAT) for the Sid Valley was set up by the Sidmouth Health and Care Forum.

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It involves schools, the police, Young Devon, community workers from the district council, Action East Devon Headlight Project, and a consultant from the mental health campaign group, the Charlie Waller Foundation.

It has obtained funding for one-to-one mental health support sessions in schools, colleges and youth centres.

Extra help for children and their parents is being provided in primary schools. Additional counselling time is being provided at Sidmouth College, where an early help coordinator has been appointed.

The college is applying for a Mental Health in Schools Award.

The team has secured lottery funding through Action East Devon for a Headlight mental health support programme in Sidmouth, but needs to raise £10,000 in match funding.

The WHAT group is now inviting the wider community to get involved.

It is holding an open meeting on Thursday, October 3, where it will launch its shared charter for wellbeing, talk about its achievements so far, and discuss how local businesses and other organisations can help make Sidmouth a Mental Health Friendly Town.

The meeting will be at the Sidmouth Sailing Club at 6.45pm.

Anyone planning to come along can confirm their attendance by emailing

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