A secondary school in Bedford has secured a £3,000 Public Health Department grant to establish important mental health projects across its community.
Mark Rutherford School applied to the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Heads Up Men's Small Community Fund to enable their 'Proactive Prevention' project to reach students, staff, parents, and the wider community.
The Heads Up small community grants scheme aims to help local groups and organisations across BLMK support men’s mental health and wellbeing.
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It is particularly focused on projects supporting individuals from the groups known to be at higher-risk of suicide, and the maximum grant is £3,000 per organisation.
The school on Wentworth Drive, applied to the scheme to support a project that aims to proactively promote positive male mental health, reduce stigma around males being open about their emotions and build resilience through teaching of healthy coping mechanisms.
This is especially important following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many students suffering from illness, bereavement, and a loss of learning time due to national lockdowns.
The school intends to use the funding to establish a strong and cohesive male mental health programme within the establishment and its local community.
In school, a one-to-one male coaching and mentoring programme will commence with vulnerable male students to offer motivational, inspirational and aspirational guidance.
Additionally, the school's Sixth Form students will be offered the opportunity to train as male Mental Health Champions that promote positive wellbeing and act as peer mentors that are
available to all male students within the establishment.
Michelle Bye-Gannon, the project lead, said: "Male mental health CPD is crucial in breaking down generational barriers, highlighting outdated and unhelpful terms/attitudes, and promoting positive engagement with all males in our community in terms of mental health and wellbeing.
"We all have a part to play in raising awareness and tackling stigma. We are grateful to the Public Health Department for recognising the positive impact our project will have."
Funding will also be assigned to offer an interactive talk by Daniel Wilsher of Damaged Goods Ltd, the UK's youngest mental health speaker, who addresses the stigma felt by young males in expressing emotion, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and the impact of carrying emotional burden on health and wellbeing; the talk also explores loss of a parent to suicide and how bereavement can impact individuals for decades if unprocessed.
To raise community awareness and support, Damaged Goods Ltd will deliver a training session on male mental health - to include signs of distress and the impact of suicide on young people - to all school staff.
This will be followed by an online training session open to all parents/carers of students at the school on male mental health and wellbeing; the talk will emphasise the importance of cohesive home, social and school spaces on adolescent male wellbeing.