Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has joined young people and mental health experts from leading charity, Action for Children, to support the parliamentary launch of Build Sound Minds – a campaign to help children and teenagers build good mental and emotional wellbeing.

A third of 15 to 18-year-olds assessed by Action for Children were found to be suffering from mental health issues. Pupils in need of support have been taking part in the Blues Programme, an evidence-based “blues busting” course that actively engages students suffering from, or at risk of developing, a mental health condition. The course, which is funded by Royal Mail, aims to reduce the signs of low mood and negative thoughts, and to promote prevention.

This is the first ever UK-wide early help intervention for teenage depression and was pioneered in the US; Action for Children have worked with the founder of the Blues Programme to ensure effective delivery in the UK. Delivering the intervention in schools across all four nations, the Blues Programme has seen 70% of pupils showing an improvement in their mental health and emotional wellbeing, with 87% reporting increased confidence

Ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week (4th-10th February), Giles pledged his support for the Build Sound Minds campaign and the Blues Programme, which also has 1,757 young people enrolled across 85 schools, with 278 courses being delivered and 1,400 young people completing the programme.

Giles Watling MP said:

“The most recent official figures show one in nine children between 5 and 15-years-old are experiencing a mental health disorder. This simply can’t go on. Acting early can help to stop these problems in their tracks and it’s vital we do everything we can, not only to help these young people with existing conditions, but also to prevent these problems from manifesting in the first place.

“That’s why I’m pleased to be supporting Action for Children’s work through Build Sound Minds, and the Blues Programme, which is having real success. I want to raise awareness of these vital services, and I encourage young people of all ages across Clacton to look out for their own wellbeing and to seek support early if they’re struggling.”

Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Action for Children, said:

“Just like our physical health, our emotional wellbeing needs care and attention. And the first step in doing this is to create a positive conversation about mental health.

“Every day we support children and teenagers who are struggling for a number of reasons. Some are concerned about their futures, many are dealing with the intense pressure of school work and others are experiencing problems at home, all while navigating a complex 24/7 world with constant stimulation from social media.

“It’s no wonder that things can sometimes become too much for young people to handle. But with the backing of MPs like Giles, Action for Children can support young people to deal with their feelings from an earlier age, help prevent problems from starting and allow them to bounce back quickly if they do.”