New report focuses on helping children and young people in Plymouth to Thrive


This year’s Director of Public Health Annual Report focuses on children and young people.

The new Director of Public Health Annual Report – the draft version of which is now available online – focuses on how the health and wellbeing of children and young people is being supported in schools in Plymouth.

Entitled Feel Better Do Better: Thrive Plymouth in Schools, it is the first annual report of Dr Ruth Harrell, who became Director of Public Health in January 2017.

The report describes school years as a critical time for children and young people to develop the knowledge and skills to look after their health and wellbeing.   Giving children and young people the opportunity to grow and learn in healthy environments can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing for their whole lifetime.


Highlighted in the report is the significant and varied work that schools and other partners are doing to support children and young people.

The report highlights the evidence that:

  • healthy children and young people not only feel better but are also more likely to learn better
  • schools that promote health and wellbeing are able to bring about improvements in the health of pupils.

The report also presents findings from a survey carried out amongst secondary school pupils about five lifestyle factors – smoking, eating, drinking, moving and mental wellbeing. Although good progress has been made in results for drinking, smoking and moving, there is more work to be done on healthy eating and supporting mental wellbeing. This links well to mental wellbeing being the focus of year four of Thrive Plymouth, the city’s ten year programme to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

The report recognises that there is shared responsibility to support the children and young people to have the best start to life and be healthy.  It challenges organisations and partners across the city to do more to support children and young people and their schools in doing this.

Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “One of the most important things we can do as a city is ensure that our children and young people grow up in healthy environments, and develop the knowledge and skills to look after their health as they grow up.

“We know that children who have healthier lifestyles also do better at school and children who achieve at school are more likely to stay healthy as they grow up. Giving our children the environments, knowledge and skills to enable them to be healthy is a skill for life.

“It is so important that we recognise the work that is done by and in our schools to support health and wellbeing for the city’s children and young people, and this report celebrates this.

“We must continue to build on the foundations we have in place, supporting schools to support their pupil’s health and wellbeing.”

“Whilst we are making progress on some lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking and alcohol, we are not making as much progress on mental wellbeing and healthy eating.

“It is very important that we use the opportunity of our fourth year of Thrive Plymouth, which focusses on mental wellbeing to improve the mental wellbeing and self-esteem of our children and young people.”

“Schools are key asset for supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the city.  This report showcases some of the work that schools in the city, and other partners who support them, have done to improve health and wellbeing for pupils.”

The report goes to our Cabinet on Tuesday 31 October and the draft is available to view online here.