Young people in East Hampshire are learning new techniques to face up to mental health issues.
Pupils from eight local schools took part in a youth conference which aimed to help young people recognise mental health related issues, give them suggestions on how to support others or themselves and increase awareness of what support services are available to them locally.
Held at East Hampshire District Council’s offices in Penns Place, the event was organised by The King’s Arms youth group project, EHDC, Havant and East Hants MIND and volunteer students from Alton College.
The day saw talks from experts in the field, including Andy Kennedy, of Hampshire County Council’s Family Support Service, and Mike, a blogger who talks about mental health on his site Mike’s Open Journal.
The young people also explored toxic thinking, made stress balls, discussed case studies, found out about useful apps and then made pledges on how they were going to improve mental health provision in their own schools.
EHDC is focusing more on welfare in the district, with mental health in young people one of its key priorities. The council has allocated £500,000 in this year’s budget to support welfare projects.
Cllr Richard Millard, Leader of EHDC, said: “We need to develop more of these opportunities. There’s so much young people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis and us older people don’t always understand that.
“We can use the information we have gathered here from you to work out how we can help mental health issues in young people based on the thoughts and views of young people."
Gill Kneller, EHDC Chief Executive, said: “It’s lovely to see so many young people here so engaged and involved.
“The discussions were excellent and I was really impressed with the level of maturity they showed as they talked about and thought about mental health issues.”
Caroline Aeschliman, Operations Manager at The King's Arms, said "This is the second youth conference we have run by agencies working together.
"Thank you to all the youth workers and volunteer students who gave their time to make it such a great event. We were so pleased with the number of schools that were involved and for the willing participation of all the young people who attended."