Engage! Flourish programme launches in Coventry

A programme is being rolled out by CV Life to help Coventry youngsters gain a better understanding of their positive mental health.

The Engage! Flourish Programme will see the organisation work with schools delivering sessions to try and stem the rise of issues caused by mental health problems later in life.

The is based on research carried out by Dr Raj Pahil from Coventry City Council’s Educational Psychology Service.

Dr Pahil’s aim is to promote positive mental health to prevent mental illness and/or to support recovery quicker in the event of youngsters experiencing mental distress in their futures.

Through positive reinforcement, talking about their feelings and self, showing respect to one another and staying physically healthy, it is hoped the programme will help youngsters be mindful and engaged with their emotions and character strengths as well as with each other.

The programme launched with local schools visiting CV Life venue Centre AT7 on Friday 22 September. There were three workshops which the pupils took part in, revolving around positivity, exercise and expression.

CV Life’s Stuart Bird is leading on the programme.

He said: “Engage! Flourish allows young people to understand what they need to grow, flourish and be the best they can be – we focus on areas that celebrate them as there’s really not a lot out there that does that currently.

“There is a big focus in society on mental health among the adult population, but we need to focus also on the younger generation. This way it can work as a pre-emptive measure, by looking at the positive side of mental health. I think this allows them to know they can succeed, instead of just looking at the more negative side further down the line.”

Talking about the impact he hopes the programme will have going forward, Stuart added: “You see the impact it has on the children involved which is why we do it. We want it to have an impact and we want the children leaving thinking positively of themselves.

“We hope the programme keeps growing, we want to get out into as many schools as possible and really have an impact on the children of the city.”

Luke Kennedy was in control of the sport side of the programme on the day, leading over 70 children in what to nearly all of them was a new sport – handball.

“Handball is on the rise, and because it’s a bit different it grabs their attention right away,” Luke explained.

“It’s competitive, it requires teamwork as well as individual skill so it really helps with managing different emotions – as does all sports generally, which the children can then channel into something more positive. That can be a key skill for life.

“Because they were all new to it, there were no experts, they all came to it with no experience which meant they had to work together as a team which then also helps them recognise each others’ skills.”

Lesley West is a teacher at St Peter and Paul, one of the schools which attended the launch.

She said: “The children have been very engaged – I’ve seen children who would not usually be involved become very interactive, some with people they’d never met before, I’ve seen them excel in sports which they wouldn’t usually do.

“Good mental health is so important because without it they can’t flourish or build good relationships. One of my students wouldn’t talk six months ago, wouldn’t engage at all, and  I’ve watched her flourish today and take part today which has made me really proud and so happy.”