A programme to improve social and emotional wellbeing amongst children will launch this month in six of Richmond upon Thames’ primary schools.

Richmond Council is investing £40,000 over two years in the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) social and emotional learning programme, delivered by Barnardo’s. The Charity is matching the council’s funding as part of their strategy to increase access to the programme and improve the mental health of children and young people.

The programme is backed by international evidence and is endorsed by organisations across the UK, Europe and the United States. Schools will gain access to specialist resources to help them incorporate the PATHS approach into their own teaching programmes.

By using age appropriate messaging, the programme enables children to label and understand their emotions. Children are taught the purpose and importance of rules, how to give and receive compliments and the value of them, and how to calm themselves and exercise self-control.

Part of the learning process includes a focus on supporting children to develop their interpersonal skills so that they can establish and maintain healthy relationships with their peers. After the programme is completed the school will be able to continue to deliver the curriculum indefinitely.

Cllr Mark Boyle, Cabinet Member for Public Health said:

“Poor mental health and wellbeing is one of the biggest challenges facing our young people today with increasing numbers of them requiring support.

“Evidence shows that mental health issues often originate in childhood years so the sooner we can give young people the tools to manage their emotions the better the outcomes will be.

“PATHS will deliver an evidence-based programme to the children in these primary schools. The children will be taught specific skills to help them improve their mental health, reduce anxiety, and improve their social skills.

“These are important skills which will enable our young people to develop into resilient and mentally healthy adults.”

Cllr Susan Chappell, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools said:

“This is a great programme based on actual evidence which proves that it works. Children will be provided with age appropriate resources, lessons are designed to be easy to deliver and it incorporates a whole school approach.

“There is also a clear path of progression throughout each year group and stages to ensure the children continue to develop these important skills as they grow.”

— from a Richmond Council press release - 19 March 2018