EXAMS and tests, relationship and money difficulties are helping to make
modern youngsters one of the most stress ridden groups in 21st century
society. Coventry has adopted a groundbreaking approach to helping youngsters at school and college cope with problems. Education reporter MARK FORSTER meets Coventry's first health promotion specialist in mental health for children and young people and finds out how she is looking after the future generation.
THREE Coventry comprehensives are piloting new initiatives to help youngsters deal with the strain of school life in the 21st century.
By the turn of the year many more city schools could be following their example.
The projects are part of an increasing recognition that looking after the mind is just as important as taking care of our bodies.
Clare Barrowman is spearheading that message in Coventry's schools and colleges.
As Coventry's first health promotion specialist in mental health for children and young people, former psychology student Clare is working to overcome the traditional image of mental health.
She said: "Too often mental health initiatives have focused on mental illness. We need to get away from that idea. Mental health was very medically focused, but now it encompasses the whole person.
"It is about feeling good about yourself, respecting yourself and others, and being able to take control of your own life.
"Coventry is quite ahead of its time. We are one of the first cities to explore the whole issue of mental health and young people. The government has recognised mental health is important, but has tended to focus on adults of working age."
Clare's two-year post with Coventry Health Promotions will see her strengthening links between schools and the health professionals and support groups.
She is already working closely with Woodlands, Foxford and Alderman Callow schools in pilot initiatives to help children improve their mental health.
"Everyone has physical health and we are told to look after that. Mental health should be no different. It is not to do with mental illness, but just coping with the strains and stresses of modern day life.
"Young people today are under greater emotional stress than young people 10 years ago. Evidence suggests if you can get to people early you can prevent problems later in life."
Focus groups have been set up to establish what makes young people in Coventry feel good about themselves and what their concerns are, if they are aware of services available to them, and how easy it is to access those services. …