A CHARITY is working with primary schools across the county to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health.

One-Eighty in Oxford is running a project in Oxfordshire primary schools called Make Me Smile, which teaches children skills including how to recognise when a friend or family member might need support.

The charity's development manager Rebekah Sammut said: "In a short one-hour session, Make Me Smile takes away the stigma of mental health problems, helps children to see how it might be affecting those around them, and offers them 'first aid' skills of how to cope with these challenges."

Tomorrow marks the last day of Children's Mental Health Week, a national awareness drive, and many schools have been championing mental health and wellbeing to mark the occasion.

One-Eighty is promoting young people’s mental health throughout February, and wants people to take part in Make Me Smile Day on Thursday, February, 28.

The organisation, based off Botley Road, has invited supporters to wear something, bake something, or bring something in to their school to 'make them smile' and share a picture on its social media platforms.

People who take part will have the opportunity to nominate a school to receive a Make Me Smile session.

Sessions are taught to Year 6 children and their teachers, who then deliver the same content to children in Year 3.

Mrs Sammut said: "Our Make Me Smile research has identified that feeling sad, having trouble sleeping, and trouble concentrating, are the most common triggers of worries.

"Young people have identified family issues, health worries, illness or bereavement, SATs, transitioning from Year 6 to Year 7, and friendships, as their top worries.

"Our research seems to indicate that boys are less likely to talk to anyone about their worries than girls."

One-Eighty offers psychology-focused behaviour support for young people aged four–18 and their families, working closely with schools, social services and other professionals.

Mrs Sammut said: "We work mostly in short interventions with young people who have been excluded or are at significant risk of exclusion, but also support some young people and families over a longer period, where the young person may have been disengaged from education for a year or more.

"Our aim is to reintegrate young people back into education, by getting to the root cause of the behaviour.

"Research suggests that if young people reintegrate into education, they are more likely to have fulfilled, happy lives and less likely to offend or become reliant on welfare and health services."

More than 70 per cent of youngsters referred to the charity in 2016/17 had poor emotional or mental health cited as a key factor in their behaviour.

Almost 30 per cent of the children the charity works with are 'looked after' children or adopted, 30 per cent have a parent or sibling with mental health needs, and 54 per cent have experienced domestic violence or substance misuse within the family unit.

One-Eighty offers further advice and resources on its website and social media pages.