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Link between knife crime and poor mental health addressed at Kent schools

Poor mental health is being linked to knife crime in a new programme being trialled at some schools.

Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind has partnered up with Youth Resilience UK to help pupils as young as 13 make the right decisions.

The new course has been designed to help teenagers make the right choices
The new course has been designed to help teenagers make the right choices

After the half term the five-week pilot course will be tried out in schools around Maidstone and Swale.

Kelly Walker, project manager at Youth Resilience UK, said: "There's a belief that knife crime only happens in London, that's what pupils are reading, but unfortunately it happens locally as well.

"This course isn't about saying 'don't do this, don't do that.' We give the students the facts around knife crime, the impact is has on victims and offenders and some information around the law.

"The mental health aspect is about understanding how negative thoughts can have negative outcomes.

"If you have stress or anxiety you don't always make the best decisions.

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"When we're teaching the courses we talk about other people, that way the pupils aren't thinking about themselves and they're more open."

The free course has had two pilot runs in east Kent, but after the half term there will be further course at secondary schools in and around Maidstone and Swale.

Mrs Walker added: "The feedback from staff and pupils has been really positive, while we're still in the pilot page we're keen to hear what pupils think of it so we know what's working and what isn't."

Knife crime in Kent is rising faster than anywhere else in the country - last year it was revealed offences had more than doubled since 2011.

As well as running the course in schools, MMK Mind is holding open sessions at its base in College Road, Maidstone.

Julie Blackmore, CEO of Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind, said: "We’ve already seen a great response for this programme within schools – so we are eager to see how taking the project to Open Access may benefit even more young people.

"As an organisation, Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind has developed a wealth of youth support programmes which all tackle different problem areas. The time has come, we feel, to broaden the impact of these programmes – and that is where working with partners like Youth Resilience UK comes in, enabling us to tackle specific areas of need within the local community."

Two free five-week courses are open to young people in the Maidstone area. Both courses will begin on February 25.

The course has been made possible by a £31,200 grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott's Violence Reduction Unit.

KMTV meets those behind the scheme

For more details, visit tinyurl.com/mmkknifecrime.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone.


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