News and Events

Mental health awareness

Posted: 4th March 2024

Charlie Easmon And Tara

The second week in February is children’s mental health week and it gave us an opportunity as a school to consider how we can be more focused on mental health, and why our mental health is so important. Led by our deputy head (academic), our whole school assembly on Monday allowed pupils from the sixth form to share their tips for good mental health and also highlighted the provision and support that is available in school. Asking pupils to talk about their own experiences and to provide support for one another can be hugely powerful and this was, in particular an important part of the week.

 

Mental health is never far from the main agenda in schools, and I used the week to share thoughts on kindness as a way of boosting mental health in my own year group assemblies. Opened just a year ago, at the University of Sussex, a new research centre, focusing on kindness, highlights not just why kindness matters to society at large, but also why it is important for all of us on an individual level and my challenge to pupils was to ‘pay it forward’ and boost their own mental health and that of others by pledging acts of kindness, to carry out over half term, which was, coincidentally, random acts of kindness week. I hope that some of them took up the challenge – it was certainly interesting to read their pledges and to consider what a difference just a few small acts might make in their own family and community settings.

 

 

Whilst at school it is always important to think about mental health of pupils, we also need to focus on the mental health and wellbeing of our staff team. Our annual education festival was focused on this topic this year and on Monday 19 February we had a fabulous day focusing on ‘flourishing people, flourishing schools’. Speakers like Charlie Easmon shared with us his recipe for sunlight leadership and inspired us with stories of his own life in medicine and public health. From Alicia Drummond, of Teen Tips, we heard about building resilience in young people and considered what we as educators can do to help boost their self-esteem. Our workshops covered diverse topics from getting a school active to menopause and looking at LGBTQ themes in school through literature. We all learned lots and were encouraged to reflect on our own practice and consider what we might do differently in the future….

 

 

What boosted our mental health most, though, was the wellness activities which colleagues put on for each other; from netball to singing, mindful facials to wellbeing in the DT workshop. It was a pleasure to see colleagues enjoying these sessions together and making connections which made them smile. Schools can be demanding places, with lots to do and a feeling that there is not always enough time to accomplish all that we aim to do. There are many things that make us feel more positive about life, boosting our self-esteem and helping us to develop the resilience and skills to navigate the challenges of life. Good mental health is not an option or a bolt-on, but rather a crucial and core part of the work of any school. putting the wellbeing and good mental health of our staff team front and centre is just as crucial as focusing on the pupils; after all, we need to be in a strong place In order to be able to support them. I am proud that we place such importance on wellbeing – it is the mark of an excellent school.

 

Categories: Head's blog
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