TO mark Children’s Mental Health Week HRH Duchess of Cambridge urged young people to find the courage to open up about their mental health. Saiqa Chaudhari reports how schools in Bolton are helping to change the way people view mental health.

SCHOOLS in Bolton are leading the way to break the stigma still surrounding such issues and illnesses bringing in high-profile figures to speak to pupils and encourage them to pay attention to their mental health the same way they do to their physical fitness.

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In Bolton nearly 6,000 children aged between five-and-17-years-old are estimated to have a mental health disorder.

To mark Children’s Mental Health week, Smithills School welcomed singer and mental health campaigner Livvy K ­— the latest in a number of well known guests to speak at the school on the issue.

Livvy K is a solo artist from the North West who has supported Rita Ora on some of her tour dates and is currently touring over 30 schools around the UK.

Livvy K not only performed for students, but also delivered a drug education, mental health and healthy lifestyles message.

Years Eight, Nine and 10 were watched Livvy K perform her single “Broken” which was written to bring awareness to mental health challenges.

Having had her own issues with mental health, Livvy K’s new song has been recorded in an effort to bring more awareness around the subject.

She also premiered another of her latest projects, a mini documentary, about emotional wellbeing and the struggles of some of her close family and friends, and lead discussions with each year group on drug education, healthy lifestyles and mental health.

Jodie Gifford, a Year 10 pupils, said: “Livvy K’s performance and presentation was very moving and inspirational. Livvy K spoke in a very sensitive way about the topics and was approachable, including the audience in her conversations.

“She was very keen to know what we thought and ensured us that we are not alone in our struggles with mental health. She made everyone in the room aware of mental health issues and what support we could get.”

Fellow pupil, Amy Greenhalgh praised the way Livvy K spoke about emotional wellbeing.

She said: “Livvy K was inspirational and presented mental health as something normal, relatable and significant.

“She shared her own experiences and that made her easy to connect to. She was close to our ages, which made it easy to relate to her struggles.

“ I enjoyed seeing her perform and the fact that she is so young makes her a role model.”

First launched by the charity Place2Be in 2015, this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week focuses on the theme of “find your brave”.

The initiative aims to highlight to young people that being brave does not mean coping alone with mental health concerns.

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Royal Patron of children’s mental health charity Place2Be said in her message launching the week: “For many children today, the world can feel a scary and daunting place. While we might not always feel brave inside, even the smallest act - such as sharing a worry or asking for help - can be incredibly courageous.

“Helping children to feel confident about seeking support can have a transformational impact on their lives.

“Being able to try new things and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone are important skills that can build children’s resilience and self-esteem. Learning these skills early in life can give children tools to cope with future challenges they may face in adulthood.”

Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be, added: “Life often throws challenges our way, and it’s important that children of all ages know it’s not a weakness to speak up or ask for help.

“Around three children in every class have a mental health problem, so it’s vital that we reach as many people as possible with this important message.”