‘It is our moral obligation’: Upminster school launches mental health team

Mental Health team

Coopers' Company and Coborn School's mental health team: Edward McCready, Louise Handley, Sarah Parker and Ana Carrera-Hernandez. - Credit: Coopers' Company and Coborn School

An Upminster secondary school and sixth form has launched a mental health team.  

The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School team, which aims to remove the stigma surrounding the topic and educate pupils on how to look after their mental health, formed in September. 

It consists of four qualified mental health first aiders: Louise Handley, Sarah Parker, Ana Carrera-Hernandez and Edward McCready, who are based in the staff workroom.   

Speaking of the team, Coopers’ Company and Coborn School headteacher Sue Hay said she is “incredibly proud of the team” because they can offer immediate help to pupils in need.  

Pupils can access one-to-one or group support from any of the team's members, who wear purple lanyards so they are easily identifiable.  

Ms Hay said the team builds an “extra layer” of support on the “already good provisions” in place at the school, which is in St Mary’s Lane and caters to around 1,500 pupils aged 11 to 18.

She added: “Post-Covid nationally, we know there is a looming crisis in mental health, and it is our job as educators to give them the strength, resilience and tools to access education and access their future careers and have the tools to be able to be really success in all aspects of their lives.  

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“Being aware of your mental health and being able to have strategies to cope when things are difficult is a really important tool that many adults don’t have and certainly the sooner we can teach children these tools and strategies it will equip them for the rest of their lives.”  

The mental health team also hosts a Mindfulness Club after school on Wednesdays.   

Emphasising the importance of this new group, Ms Hay said it is a "moral obligation" to make sure pupils are looked after following the difficulties of lockdown.  

So far, she says the team are “absolutely valued” and its addition has been a “fantastic resource”.  

Ms Hay added: “It is part of our ethos as a school to look at the issues facing young children today. We take pride over the fact we aren’t just an exams factory – we care for the whole child.”