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SMASH-tastic: Pilot project to improve emotional resilience and mental health of young people yields "outstanding results"

SMASH-tastic: Pilot project to improve emotional resilience and mental health of young people yields "outstanding results"
09 May 2017

A pilot project designed to improve the emotional resilience and mental health of young people at ten East Riding secondary schools is producing “outstanding results”, organisers have revealed. 

Humber NHS Foundation Trust said pupil feedback from the first four schools involved showed that on average its three-month Social Mediation and Self-Help (SMASH) programme boosted participants’ confidence and self-esteem by 50 per cent and improved their feelings and behaviours by 42 per cent. 

The data, scheduled to be presented later this week at a celebration event in Beverley, also showed that on average the youngsters’ education, learning and relationships improved by 35 per cent and their number of friends by 37 per cent. 

Programme Manager Emma Train-Sullivan said: “These results are outstanding and a clear demonstration that our work has improved the emotional resilience and mental health of the young people involved. 

“I hope we will soon be in a position to offer the programme to other schools in East Riding so more young people can gain the skills needed to improve their emotional wellbeing.” 

SMASH was developed as part of the Trust’s response to widely publicised concerns about the provision and quality of mental health services for young people. 

Against a backdrop of record demand for services and limited financial resources, the programme aims to tackle problems in their infancy before they become more serious and costly to address. 

Participants aged 11 to 16 spend a day a week at a community venue learning social, emotional and behavioural self-management skills after being referred by their schools or mental health services with their parents’ consent. 

Group work and one-to-one sessions are used to equip them with social, emotional and communication skills so they can create and maintain positive relationships. They are also taught practical skills such as cooking and how to lead a healthy lifestyle. 

One child, who turned up to every SMASH session despite having only a 60 per cent attendance record at school, said: “Everyone struggles with different problems and situations; SMASH can deal with them all.” 

Another said: “I’m not as naughty at home, don’t argue with my parents as much and listen better at school.”

Ms Train-Sullivan said: “We have seen a significant improvement in students’ attendance and we have seen a day-to-day improvement in students' ‘happiness’.

"The latter seems to be down to their new-found friendship group and the fact that the intensive work they have done has enabled them to focus on improving the quality of their friendships and their sense of self-worth.

"The students have worked through a programme of support and now seem to be more able to resolve some of their own issues independently.”

Some of the children involved and their parents will celebrate the pilot’s achievements at an event hosted by the Trust at Beverley Racecourse on Thursday (11) morning. 

Representatives from East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Humberside Police will be among the audience at the event, which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week.

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