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Smile for the camera! Ilford teenager takes selfie with Prime Minister Theresa May

PUBLISHED: 11:04 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:58 21 August 2017

Alisha Kassam takes a selfie with Theresa May (credit: Lee Goddard)

Alisha Kassam takes a selfie with Theresa May (credit: Lee Goddard)

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A teenager from Ilford met with the Prime Minister last week to share her thoughts on how to improve mental health amongst young people.

At a National Citizen Service (NCS) centre in Powys, South Wales, Theresa May announced that more than 100,000 teenagers a year will be given mental health training in order to help them cope with exam pressure and build up their self-esteem.

The course will be delivered as part of the NCS programme for teenagers which seeks to prepare young people for the challenges of adult life and work.

She also revealed her plans to roll out mental health training for frontline staff and to set up a new network for NCS graduates.

Mental health issues disproportionately affect young people, with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14.

At the centre, NCS graduate Alisha Kassam, aged 17, of Ilford, shared her thoughts with Theresa May on how best to tackle mental health.

She said: “Having volunteered with children suffering with mental health issues and seen the way that they can affect my peers in and outside school, I have been very passionate about removing the stigma surrounding mental health in the younger generation.

“As young people, I don’t think we ourselves realise the sheer number of us that are suffering, often in silence and as a result I feel it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone knows how they can seek the help that they need.

“NCS has encouraged me to make a difference within my school and I am now part of a small group of peer supporters who help to address any concerns that students have either within or outside of school.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that’s why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me.

“We know that early intervention, along with giving young people the confidence to access support, is key - that’s where NCS plays such a vital role.

“NCS helps young people forge friendships across social divides and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.

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