AN EAST Lancashire college will be teaching pupils to recognise the signs of depression and other mental health issues in the coming academic year.
The move, by Accrington and Rossendale College, follows the recent death of actor Robin Williams and several recent suicides closer to home.
Students will be made aware of issues surrounding suicide and mental illness, and of the support services available to them.
The college has always been keen to promote good mental health among students, but several young suicides in Accrington and Rossendale have highlighted the importance of the issue.
Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar school student Lauren Johnson, 17, from Oswaldtwistle, fell from the roof of the car park in Accrington’s Arndale Centre in June. She had suffered with mental health problems in the past. And Henry Tattersall, 13, from Rawtenstall hanged himself in November last year.
His classmate at Fearns Community College in Bacup, Declan Gatenby, 13, was also found hanged in July last year.
Wez Evans, from the personal development team at the college, said staff want to engage more with students on the subject of mental health.
He said: “It’s not just suicide, mental health issues in general are going to be a focus of ours as a college this next academic year.
“It’s about being on the lookout for support needs of our students, working to create awareness of support systems out there, and reducing stigma.”
The college will also be supporting young suicide charity Papyrus throughout the year, and is in talks with the organisation about coming into AccRoss to speak to students specifically about suicide.
As part of the fundraising effort, a team of 12 staff from AccRoss, including principal Sue Taylor, will be taking part in the Tough Mudder challenge on September 13.
Team Accross will be attempting to complete a gruelling obstacle course more than 10 miles long.
The team is in training now, and staff hope to raise £2,500 for the north west-based charity.
To sponsor them, visit: www.justgiving.com/accross/2 or text YELP55 followed by an amount in £s (for example YELP £10) to 70070.