New term, new mental health and emotional wellbeing sessions for school students

Free mental health and emotional wellbeing sessions are being offered to secondary school pupils, beginning with Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Brent by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL).

The sessions will allow young people to recognise and understand the causes of mental illnesses, deal with stigma and provide them with basic mental health first aid, to help themselves and their friends.

The sessions cover depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders and those conditions that affect older family members like dementia. People who have experienced mental illness will also be part of the campaign, sharing their stories about recovery, as it really is.

The Trust is also looking for entries for its drama competition; evidence shows that drama affects perceptions as much as the news or a documentary. Students are asked to produce 10 minute plays in the style of a soap opera to illuminate the issues around mental health and how they can be overcome and the winner will be chosen by CNWL.

Rachael Ryan, CNWL’s Children and Young People’s Participation Coordinator for Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), said;

“Mental health is something that everyone has, like physical health, so we need to be more aware of what influences it and how to manage it. Particularly as young people face so much pressure from peers as well as situations at home or at school. We still live in an age where negative stereotypes about mental health dominate thinking, so we want to develop people’s understanding.”

Invitations have been sent to local secondary schools, providing information on these sessions, but if a school, college or a workplace are interested in a session, please get in touch with CNWL at

Claire Murdoch, CNWL’s Chief Executive, said;

“If, like us, you want to promote self-care, it starts with understanding. Stigma is far too often a ‘factory setting’ for some, caught unaware they just don’t know what to do or how to react when facing emotional distress or crisis. The secret – and it’s too well kept a secret – is to listen, to combat the urge to ‘offer advice’; listen and listen hard.

“Our Governors wanted this campaign in the community but I’d like to see workplaces and companies talking up the offer too. Mental illness is very common – one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some time – and we all need to understand more and know what to do.”

For more information and support for children and young people with mental illnesses please visit the CNWL CAMHS and Me website: