YOUNG people are feeling the pressure.

Issues such as social media and educational expectations are contributing to the impact on health and well being - but a new initiative aims to give children the tools to effectively deal with life's pressures.

The positive profiling of mental health in the media is helping to de-stigmatise this once silent condition. World Mental Health Day - recognised by The World Health Organisation on October 10 2017 - raises awareness of mental health, and high profile supporters such as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are also doing their bit after spearheading the mental health initiative 'Heads Together.'

Mental Health is, after all, an important issue to tackle and, according to educational psychologist Vicki Morris, the earlier the better.

According to the Mental Health Foundation 10 per cent of children and young people aged five to 16 have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70 per cent of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age (Children's Society, 2008).

Vicki, who works with Bradford Council, says she believes children and young people are under far more pressure today at school and through social media than they used to be. "There is so much pressure on children now because of the systems in place and the pressure of social media and I think we have better awareness now."

Launched in Bradford in March, The Mental Health Champions Project has been running in more than 50 schools across the district.

The pilot project is funded by the NHS Bradford Commissioning Groups and supported by The Educational Psychology Team within Bradford Council and Primary Mental Health workers from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

It developed as part of the Government's drive to support the mental health needs of children and young people following NHS England's 'Future in Mind' strategy published in 2015 as part of the Mental Health Services Reform.

Vicki, who is carrying on the baton from Dr Philippa Grace, specialist senior educational psychologist (Mental Health) in delivering the Mental Health Champions project, explains each school appointed a volunteer member of staff as their Mental Health Champion to promote and deliver termly themes including sensitive issues such as the Mental Health effects of bullying; self harm and anxiety, through school assemblies, classrooms and in one to one work with children during school time.

In addition, a website is being developed to promote awareness of subjects covered in school as well as provide an invaluable resource to the community, parents and the public, that can be accessed at home or on the specially created mobile version of the website.

Chatting with Sally Leng at a recent Mental Health Champions meeting at Culture Fusion in Bradford, it seems incomprehensible that children are suffering from stress and anxiety.

Sally, a mental health champion at Worthinghead Primary School in Wyke, says at one time people didn't probably think children had stress or anxiety, they are children - what have they to be stressed about?

But Sally believes it is an issue which has always existed - we are more aware of it now.

"I think it has always been there. I think it is like all these things, it's like named conditions, they have always been there but we were not aware. Children have the same emotions as adults but it's about normalising a lot of it for children, helping them to understand their feelings and helping them build up that resilience."

For Sally, becoming a Mental Health Champion is a natural extension to her role. She already works with groups and individuals giving children from foundation age to Year 6 the techniques to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety.

Among the 'tools' pupils are taught to help them cope are relaxation methods and running sessions. Knowing there is someone they can talk to is beneficial too as well as having encouragement and praise which can help to improve feelings of self worth.

Says Sally: "Mental health issues are being talked about so much now in adults, but you just don't become an adult and have mental health issues, it starts earlier on and it is giving them the tools to manage because life is difficult. It is about giving them the tools to cope."

Lillian Sharp, Worthinghead Primary headteacher says the project has brought great benefits to the whole school.

"When Sally goes into classes to do the relaxation techniques all the teachers accept it is important and they join in. The benefits are you get that ethos in school that everybody accepts. We are all in this together and we are all there to support them."

For more information about the Mental Health Champions visit Professionals interested in their schools participating in the project can contact Updates on the progress of the website and further information can be found on the Mental Health Matters in Schools Facebook page; Mentalhealthmatters Inschools.