A MENTAL health charity is offering free mental health talks to primary schools across Lancashire.

It comes after more than 1,100 children have been referred by schools to East Lancashire health trusts for specialist mental health treatment in the last four years.

The number of children and young people referred to the East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust were 143 in 2014/15, 164 in 2015/16, 163 in 2016/2017, and 105 in 2017/18, a total of 575 over the four years.

The figures were obtained by children’s charity the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request to NHS trusts in England.

The figure for the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, the main mental health organisation in the county, were 105 in 2014/15, 135 in 2015/16, 154 in 2016/17, and 197 in 2017/18, a total of 591 over the four years.

To tackle this, leading mental health charity Lancashire Mind said it was already working with some of the county’s teachers and staff to help reduce the number of young people going on to develop mental health conditions.

One such initiative has seen Lancashire Mind extend its free Happier Lancashire talks to primary schools.

The talks were introduced in high schools and community groups over two years ago and have seen 1,750 people spoken to this year alone.

The talks aim to equip children with the knowledge of how to protect their wellbeing from an early age.

Rachael Ray, children and young people’s community development lead at Lancashire Mind, said: “There is currently great concern about mental health conditions among young people.

“At the moment statistics tell us that half of mental health conditions begin before the age of 14 but we expect the age to be lower when new statistics are released later this year.

“We’ve been delivering our free Happier Lancashire talks in high schools and community groups for over two years and have spoken to 1,750 people this year alone.

“As a charity we want, and need, to do more, which is why we are expanding this offer and providing Happier Lancashire talks in an age-appropriate way to younger children.

“The talks Lancashire Mind offer equip children with the knowledge of how to protect their wellbeing from an early age.

“Talking to children about wellbeing can encourage conversations about mental health to become a natural part of their lives.

“In these talks, Lancashire Mind staff discuss the importance of mental health alongside physical health and we discuss the five ways to wellbeing, which are simple daily actions we can all take that can support children to have good wellbeing and build their resilience.”

Nationally, the number of UK children under the age of 11 in need of psychological help has risen to almost 19,000 in just 12 months, from less than 14,000 three years previously.

The Happier Lancashire talk can be delivered in an assembly format or as interactive session for smaller groups.

To book a Happier Lancashire talk, people can email laurenhilton@lancashiremind.org.uk.