Call for churches to be open to teenagers suffering mental health issues.

Thu 18 Oct 2018
By Premier Journalist

A Christian helping people with mental health issues has called on churches to be open to talking to teenagers.

Lily Jo who runs the Lily Jo project based in Manchester and goes into schools to talk about mental health says it's a case of being willing to listen to the young person.

She told Premier's News hour:

"I think it's definitely about having that open dialogue, that open conversation making sure that those young people know actually, if you're struggling, I'm the person to speak to, like, come and talk to me and we'll work through it together.

The charity, Action for Children surveyed 5,000 teenagers and found a third were feeling depressed and unable to shake off negative feelings, even with the help of friends and family.

Common issues were feeling depressed, restless sleep and struggling to focus their minds.

The charity offered those in need of support a place on its Blues Programme - the first nationwide programme of its kind to deliver early help for depression in secondary schools.

Since the programme started last October, 620 15 to 18-year-olds have taken part, with 420 completing a questionnaire at the end.

According to the charity 70% had showed an improvement by July this year, with a specific decrease in depression.

The Blues Programme is part of Action for Children's Build Sound Minds campaign which encourages positive conversation and good mental health.

It is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy methods and helps young people understand the connection between negative thoughts, actions and feelings over a period of six weeks.

Currently the programme operates in 37 schools based on geographical mental health hotspots identified by Action for Children's frontline services.

The locations are: Worcestershire, High Wycombe, Cardiff, North Wales, Northern Ireland - Derry and Downpatrick, Scotland - Glasgow and Stornoway, and courses have been completed in High Wycombe.

Lily Jo told Premier that factors of poverty, addiction and lack of support contributed to poor mental health among 15- 18 year-olds.

She said she was not surprised by the figures but said churches could do a lot to help.

(additional reporting from Press Association)

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