Hull’s school pupils encouraged to chat at Talking Tables

To coincide with World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10 October, some of Hull’s secondary schools will launch Talking Tables, a Public Health initiative to encourage people to strike up a conversation.

Public Health launched Talking Tables on Monday 10 September to mark World Suicide Day. Now, as part of HeadStart Hull’s young people’s peer mentoring project run by Cornerhouse Yorkshire, pupils within the city’s schools are being encouraged to talk to combat isolation in schools across lunchtimes and other times.

Peer Mentors based within 11 secondary schools have completed a comprehensive training programme to recognise the signs of mental health problems and reduce the stigma.

The seven schools who are introducing Talking Tables are St Mary’s College, Newland School for Girls, Archbishop Sentamu Academy, The Boulevard Academy, Hull Trinity House Academy, Winifred Holtby Academy and Malet Lambert.
This continues the conversation about mental health and follows on from the young people led ‘You are not alone’ campaign, where inspirational messages via speakers were placed on the Marina until Wednesday 10 October.

Research from the World Mental Health Organisation shows half of all mental health problems in later life begin at the age of 14 and HeadStart Hull believes that giving young people the opportunity to talk about how they are feeling and also the opportunity to be less isolated can only be a positive step in the right direction.

Councillor Peter Clark, Portfolio Holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children, said: “The beauty of the Talking Tables is that anyone can sit and talk with the mentors. This will help build a school community that supports each other and combats isolation.

“It is a really simple initiative that will hopefully improve health and wellbeing of young people.”

Estelle Parker, Young People’s Peer Mentor, said: “We are hoping that by having mentors run the talking tables in schools they can identify those who may be struggling and refer them into peer mentoring or for other more suitable support in order to help them resolve any problems they may have.”

Gail Teasdale, HeadStart Programme Lead, said: “HeadStart Hull has worked with schools across the city over the last few years to enable them to implement initiatives to support the young people they work with on a day to day basis and improve their mental health. We have a range of targeted services young people who need more support can access but we also want to ensure that we reduce isolation and remove the stigma about mental health through every day interactions and conversations. Talking tables is one of the ways we can achieve this.”

Any young person who feels they need more support than Talking Tables can provide within HeadStart Hull schools can speak to peer mentoring project workers who are present in each school one day per week. They can also talk to the pastoral staff in the schools who can help them access the targeted support the project provides.