PREVENTION is the key to helping the 'deteriorating' picture of young people's mental health, says new charity boss.

Dan Knowles has been Oxfordshire Mind's chief executive officer for six months and has some ideas as to how the charity can help stop mental health problems from developing in young people.

He said: "I would say at an overall level there is a deteriorating picture of young people's mental health in the UK.

"Disorders, self harm and anxiety all seem to be on the increase.

"Lots of money and resources gets put towards people who have got a problem.

"But we want to do more to prevent those problems from occurring."

The charity, based in Osney Mead, thinks that working and strengthening its relationships with schools is a key part of prevention.

Mr Knowles added: "We say that from year six onwards, so 11 and ten-year-olds, it is important that we start talking to them, letting them know that we have physical health and mental health.

"We have got a couple of sessions coming up on mental health awareness in schools in Oxfordshire and we are really keen to roll that out."

But Mr Knowles does not want to stop there and hopes in the future that a team of four or five trained employees can visit the county's 300 schools and set up peer support groups and give parents, teachers and pupils the advice, training and support they might need.

Recently Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood spoke at a health and education committee at the House of Commons.

In her address on 'Children and young people's mental health - the role of education' Ms Blackwood said: "One announcement that the Prime Minister made as part of her mental health announcement was that we will be rolling out mental health first aid across all secondary schools, which will deliver a one?day course for secondary school teachers from April to December.

"So, teachers will be receiving mental health first-aid training.

"It is quite high-quality training and it will provide a level of awareness.

"One issue that we have not touched on yet is that it is all very well having a high level of awareness among teachers, but if young people are not willing to come forward to receive help because of stigma, we will not be making any progress."

She went on to say that a 'key priority' was to break that stigma surrounding mental health for young people.

She added: "We run a big programme, Time to Change, which is reaching over 750,000 children and young people with social marketing messages, trying to change attitudes and encourage young people to seek help if they feel they need to.

"We will be running this through schools, including a campaign, a boot camp and the train the trainer roles."

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