Health and social care leads in Wolverhampton have welcomed the launch of a new multi million pound programme which aims to give young people a HeadStart in life.

Wolverhampton has been chosen as one of 12 areas in England to receive funding from the Big Lottery Fund to develop new services designed to help young people aged between 10 and 14 which will help them cope with the pressures of modern life.

The £75 million HeadStart programme was launched last week, at the same time that the results of a national study were published showing that nearly half of young people aged 10 to 14 have suffered sleepless nights due to stress and anxiety.

The study highlighted concerns among young people about exams and tests and family problems such as unemployment, bullying, arguments or parents splitting up.

HeadStart will target the key 10 to 14 period in a child's life and seek to improve young people's resilience by giving them the support and skills they need to cope with the difficulties they may experience at this time.

Working with specially tasked partnerships in 12 areas including Wolverhampton, HeadStart will focus primarily on schools through special resilience lessons, helping pupils feel they have support at school as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Wolverhampton will initially be given £10,000 with which to work up detailed proposals which, if a future bid is successful, could see Wolverhampton receive a substantial amount to develop the scheme further in the city.

Sarah Norman, Wolverhampton City Council's Strategic Director for Community, said: "Addressing mental health issues, particularly for children and young people, is a priority for health and social care services in Wolverhampton, and so this is tremendous news for our young people.

"Only around 25% of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it - usually only once they reach 18 - meaning younger children are missing out on vital support.

"Being chosen to participate in the HeadStart programme is therefore a great opportunity for us to achieve our vision and ambitions for the city.

"Of course, this is just the starting point and there is a lot of work to do before we will find out how much of the funding available we can secure for Wolverhampton. We will be working tremendously hard over the coming months with our key partners and the Big Lottery Fund to give ourselves the best possible chance of securing the financial support we need to transform young people's lives."

The Big Lottery Fund worked closely with young people to identify how their age group would like good causes money from the National Lottery to help them. Having carried out their own research and discovered mental health was one of the top concerns of their peers they helped to develop HeadStart, which has received the support of Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

She said: "We already know that most lifelong mental health problems start to develop by the time a child reaches the age of 14 so it is vital that they are identified and get the support and treatment they need as early as possible.

"The HeadStart programme promises to be a fantastic way of reaching and helping children at risk of developing long term mental health issues and helping more children to grow up happy and healthy."

Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund England Director, added: "The Big Lottery Fund is investing £75 million to enable children to have a better chance of dealing with the knocks and setbacks in life which many adults take for granted.

"For many young people, how they feel about themselves; their self esteem, confidence or negative peer pressure can become deep troubling, take root and lead to crime, self harm or even suicide. But with the right support and access to help at this key transition stage of our lives we aim to show that young people can be given a HeadStart to lead happier, more fulfilling lives."

  • released: Friday 29 November, 2013