Crossways Community

Richard Philbin

In the third of our profiles we hear this week from the chief executive of Crossways Community, Chris Munday, on the work of his charity…

There is an increasing problem with mental health in our schools: stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm are all on the increase. Schools are seeing a steady rise in the numbers of young people with mental health problems and in some cases may struggle to provide appropriate help. Latest statistics show that ten per cent of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a suf? ciently early age. Many children often have to wait months before they are even assessed for a mental health condition.

Young people suffer from poor mental health for a variety of reasons. These can include exam pressure, family difficulties, bereavement, failure, poor physical health and bullying. And there are young people suffering with mental health problems right here in Tunbridge Wells right now.

All professionals agree that early intervention is important to treating mental health problems and that failure to intervene quickly and effectively is particularly worrying. Crossways Community is part of the answer to these problems. We are part of that early intervention response. We are currently in local schools: Skinners, Bennett Memorial St Greggs, Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Girls and Judd and would like to be in more. We are now looking to help younger children and so in January we start working with St Barnabas Primary School.

In the sessions we run in schools we empower young people by making them aware of mental health problems, we discuss the different types of illnesses and help dispel the stigma surrounding mental health. We provide practical help for young people to help them spot poor mental health in themselves and their friends and show them ways of building resilience and wellbeing.

Finally we signpost other places where they can find help. And the costs are not huge compared to the good they do. Every donation of £50 will pay for trained professionals to go into our local schools and run a session on mental health. Helping our young people right here in Tunbridge Wells.

If we spend the time, effort and money now on our young people and their mental health then the chances of their becoming adults with decent mental health are hugely increased. If we fail to support our young people in this way then we risk failing that generation.

Chris Munday
Chief executive of Crossways Community

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