Supporting schools to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people
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Young Listeners Report

The Advancing Mental Health in Schools project was delivered in 2017 by Community First and commissioned by Healthwatch Wiltshire.

Find out more about Young Healthwatch Wiltshire here

The project, which took place in four Wiltshire secondary schools, aimed to increase knowledge about the healthcare experiences of young people.   

The programme offered an opportunity for 18 young people, aged 12-14, to attend training through the Young Listeners Programme. This training enabled the Cluster Listeners to hear young people's views and experiences during 156 recorded interviews.


Three quarters of young people knew what support was available if they had a mental or physical health problem. Of the young people who accessed support, 27% reported a positive experience, with almost 30% reporting a negative experience.


The following four themes emerged from their findings.

1. Improved awareness from school staff around mental health and wellbeing
Students felt that it was important that there were opportunities to discuss their mental health and wellbeing. They wanted situations and platforms that allowed open dialogue around how they were feeling.

2. Make it easier for young people to access help and support in schools
Many students felt that the attitude of staff and teachers was good, but that availability to talk was insufficient. 

3. A better attitude needed from school staff when approached by young people about their mental health and wellbeing
Young people wanted to discuss their mental health and wellbeing without judgement. They wanted to be taken seriously, treated like an equal and to have concerns treated respectfully.

4. More peer to peer support available in schools
Young people felt it was easier to approach people of their own age and that there would be a deeper understanding from them. Young Listeners were trusted as they were trained and students knew that if something was beyond their capability then they would refer it to a teacher.  

The Advancing Mental Health in Schools Report was published in March 2018 and can be read here.

Links with other work

Findings from this report reinforce many of the key messages from the Wiltshire Young People's Mental Health Charter

Young people recently provided a range of information about their health related behaviours, including emotional and mental health, as part of the Wiltshire Children and Young People's Health and Wellbeing Survey.     

Schools are asked to audit their school provision and meet local criteria as part of the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health theme of the Wiltshire Healthy Schools programme. This includes consulting with young people and responding to their identified needs.

Some links to teaching resources and other school support for this theme can be found here.