The booklet and accompanying posters, launched to mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, October 10 2017, were devised by young people from the East Sussex Youth Cabinet and Download mental health participation group.
The leaflet contains ‘top 10 tips’ on how schools can raise awareness and challenge the stigma surrounding mental illness, while promoting positive mental health.
It also contains advice on what not to do and lists resources for further advice and support.
Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services at East Sussex County Council, said: “Good mental health and emotional wellbeing is vital to ensure young people can achieve their best at school and in life.
“While attitudes toward mental health are changing, unfortunately there remains a stigma about such issues, which can be a barrier for children to get the help they need.
“Young people in East Sussex have produced a fantastic and simple guide for schools to help them feel more confident about how to support and promote good mental health.”
The East Sussex Youth Cabinet said: “We wanted to create a simple and easy to use guide for schools. One of the most important things is that there is someone in school we can talk to about mental health and who will not judge anyone.”
The booklet advises schools to take time to talk about mental health issues, ensure young people know where to go for help and consider having a named and trained teacher they can approach with any concerns.
Meanwhile, school staff are advised to avoid unhelpful comments such as urging someone to ‘try and be happy’, to not let negative comments about mental health go unchallenged and to bear in mind that poor pupil behaviour could be a sign of mental health problems.