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High school scoops first national mental health award

Promoting wellbeing has helped an academy become the first secondary school in the country to gain a new mental health award from Leeds Beckett University.

Stockport Academy in Greater Manchester has gained silver status after picking up the Carnegie Centre of Excellence Mental Health Award for Schools.

Established in partnership with social enterprise Minds Ahead, the mental health quality kitemark recognises schools that ensure the wellbeing of pupils and staff.

Professor Damien Page, Dean of Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education, said: “Achieving this award is not just recognition of a whole-school approach to mental health, it’s a recognition of the school’s commitment to improving the life chances of children.

“We’re truly proud to have worked with Stockport Academy in this vital work and look forward to further collaboration.”

The academy provides a wide range of activities to boost the wellbeing of pupils and staff, including one-on-one counselling sessions for students, family therapy sessions and mental health drop-in sessions, all on a weekly basis.

In addition, students are offered anger management support, and a Year 10 peer mentor group supports Year 7 students who might be struggling with the transition to secondary school.

The school also holds an annual mental health awareness week, with assemblies and pop-up support stalls, while students are also able to access online support and a self-help service.

Students from the academy also discussed mental health issues during a visit from Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner - who attended the school as a student.

Stockport Academy Principal Janine McCann said: “We are delighted to be the first secondary school in the country to receive this award, which recognises the hard work of both students, staff and our families, on what is an incredibly important issue.

“As a school at the heart of its community, we work tirelessly to support our students with their curricular studies and beyond. Helping to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing is a key part of our drive to provide a real education with character.”

The school also runs two annual ‘wellbeing weeks’ that encourage staff to take early finishes, eat healthy and be more active. Stockport Academy has also taken part in a pilot scheme with its sponsor, United Learning, and business psychology company Robertson Cooper to further develop its staff wellbeing programme.

Nationally, more than 300 schools have signed up to take part in the new mental health award.

Dean Johnstone, founder and CEO of Minds Ahead said: “This award shines a light on the excellent work schools are doing to promote mental health for their community of children and adults.

“It is thrilling and humbling to learn about Stockport Academy and the many other schools engaged in the quality award process. I’d like to offer my congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.”

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