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The St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust is supporting pupils' mental health with YMCA therapists

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A school trust is using therapists to help pupils address mental health issues that have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic - and is seeing progress.

The St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust (DMAT), which has 21 schools in Suffolk, including Hartest C of E Primary School near Bury St Edmunds, is working with the YMCA Trinity Group charity to support students' mental health.

One Year 5 pupil at a Suffolk school had been struggling with raised anxiety levels and OCD tendencies, and also struggled to like themself and they were very self-critical.

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These emotional challenges were preventing them from being able to go to school, and their friendships and education were affected as a result.

A mental health therapist from YMCA Trinity Group was able to support the student with therapy through play, which enabled them to attend school on a more consistent basis and improve their sense of wellbeing.

This work within the DMAT’s schools is directly supporting individuals and groups - like this student - after starting in September 2021, and it will continue thanks to funding.

Jane Sheat, CEO of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust, said: “As a trust, we are very aware of the social and emotional issues affecting some pupils, and are confident that trained YMCA therapists will really help.

“We are keen to help pupils to address some of the mental health issues which have worsened over the last two years or so. This will enable pupils to do well at school and to develop skills for life.

"We are grateful to a local charitable trust for a generous grant which will fund this work to go ahead over the next three years. Therapists will work in hubs across Suffolk, supporting our 21 MAT schools and the work they do to promote children’s wellbeing.”

YMCA Trinity Group is a local charity that enables young people to discover who they are and what they can become. Each year, the charity supports around 10,000 young and vulnerable people, and communities across Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Jonathan Martin, chief executive of YMCA Trinity Group, said: “Research tells us that one in six young people have a mental health issue - roughly 20% of pupils in every classroom.

“This makes it more important than ever to build proactive and sustainable communities where young people can truly belong, contribute, and thrive.

“Our work with DMAT is helping achieve this, and ensuring that each child has the best possible opportunity to achieve their potential and become all they can be.”

In conjunction with Small Talks – a national YMCA England and Wales’ mental health campaign – YMCA Trinity Group has produced free, informative resources that can be accessed here.

YMCA Trinity Group also provides a range of mental health services for all types of settings. To find out more call 01733 373187 or email mentalhealthservices@ymcatrinity.org.uk