TUTOR Annette Hargreaves (pictured), from the Department of Primary Education, leaves for New Zealand, Australia and the United States next week to look at how community programmes promote mental wellbeing with families and children.
Her six-week travel and research project has been funded by the Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which looks overseas for new and better ways of tackling a wide range of current challenges facing the UK.
Annette, a former early years’ teacher and now tutor at Manchester Met, will explore successful collaborations regarding mental health within communities and learn how they are improving children’s future life chances.
Annette explains: “The first three years of life have been identified as the key areas in which to promote children’s later wellbeing.
“Children in their earliest years are and can be affected by the environment they are brought up in, whether it is at home or in childcare and at school. More and more early years’ teachers and health professionals are seeing a growing demand on their services regarding the wellbeing of young children and their families.”
She continued: “There are community schemes in New Zealand, Australia and the US which are providing sustainable frameworks for supporting this need and tackling some of the taboos surrounding mental health.”
“I hope to come back with a blueprint for the UK,” she added.
Mental health is never far from the headlines with a growing call for a more open debate.
The UK government has alluded to the need for enhanced mental health services, caring communities and a safe harbour for children, including a pledge to invest heavily in specialist mental health care during and after pregnancy by 2020.
Annette said: “This is encouraging. When you create a sense of community and promote a sense of belonging it makes it ‘alright’ to talk about mental health and remove the associated taboos.”
Annette’s Travelling Fellowship from The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is open to British citizens from all backgrounds.
There were 1,000 applications for funding in 2015 and only 150 were successful, one of which was Annette’s research trip. No qualifications are required. Just a project and the desire to improve your community, profession or field.
She said: “Securing the funding was a great personal achievement for me. Now I want to make it count for the thousands of UK families affected by mental health issues.”