A CHARITY has been launched to help young people get the best start in life by building self-esteem.

The Consett-based group, Building Self-Belief, has been set up to tackle the growing trend of mental health issues among school children and seeks to put in place strategies, support and advice to help them get the best possible start as they embark on adult life.

Education consultant and executive trustee Christine Thomas started her teaching career almost 25 years ago and has worked in schools across the country.

She said: “Our programmes help to prevent mental health issues arising by providing children with the resilience and coping strategies they will require for the future.

“Sadly though, due to a squeeze on education and health budgets, many children are simply left to cope for themselves and in a lot of cases, their mental health may suffer.

“Currently, we primarily work with young people aged between ten and 16, giving them real social experiences that will build up their self-confidence and self-esteem. “These experiences are structured so that they have time to reflect and learn from their emotions.”

Building Self-Belief’s workshops and programmes for schools use a variety of content including team building activities, cultural projects and educational experiential visits as well as discussions, creative writing and self-reflection.

As a part of one of their programmes, the charity took a group of year ten students from Consett Academy on a high wire course to help build up their confidence levels.

As well as traditional team building and confidence gaining activities, the charity also tackles many serious issues that are not on the school curriculum including bereavement, bullying, sleep deprivation and friendship issues, subjects which can potentially have a major impact on a young person’s mental health and their future expectations from life.

Mel Parker, from Consett Academy, said: “The programme has had a real impact on the confidence and friendships of those who have taken part. From a group of nervous teenagers at the start I have seen them really flourish, both individually and as a team.

“They have really encouraged each other and their self-esteem has improved.”