Mental Health Awareness Week (10 to 16 May 2021) is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and inspire actions to promote the message of good mental health for everyone. The theme this year is Connect with Nature.
Let us consider how we can move forwards from the pandemic with a renewed sense of what matters most.
Same Storm, Different Boats
Over the past year we have all be in the same storm but in different boats, experiencing a wide range of thoughts and feelings. There is no doubt that this may have negatively impacted on people’s wellbeing and mental health.
For many, technology has been fantastic in enabling us to stay connected with loved ones, helped us to work from home, provided a platform for online learning and to gain access to wellbeing resources, however, we should recognise that everyone’s needs are different. Some may have experienced feelings of loneliness through isolation in lockdown. Others maybe anxious about navigating the new world ahead. Whatever you are feeling right now, please know that you are not alone and that there is always help available.
Young Minds Matter
We need to create a vision for recovery where every child and young person is seen, heard and their feelings validated. Young people have experienced loss in many forms throughout these times, we now need to bridge the gap of opportunity for repair.
We know that good mental health can have a great impact on the life outcomes of young people. We also know the benefits of connecting with others though social activities and achievements. The Princes Trust offer the opportunity for young people to stretch and grow through their programmes of life experiences.
Here are some tips to encourage a child’s positive mental health:
- Observe – is the child or young person acting differently?
- Communicate – encourage communication and offer opportunities to check in with their emotional temperature
- Encourage – provide coping mechanisms for when they are feeling overwhelmed
- Sleep – make sure the young person is getting good quality sleep
- Listen – to understand and not necessarily to respond
- Reach Out – don’t be afraid to ask for help from a GP, others in school or specialist service
- Praise – remind young people of their accomplishments and strengths
- Educate – help children and young people learn about the signs of mental health and remind them of how they can get help
The Five Ways to Wellbeing researched and developed by The New Economics Foundation is a great way to explore ways to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Start taking action today by listing the things that you can do to Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning and Give.
The recent Teacher Wellbeing Index published by The Education Support Partnership clearly shows that educators have been under considerable stress in the pandemic.
75% of staff have faced physical or mental wellbeing issues in the last 2 years.
Therefore it is vital that staff keep healthy in their roles.
Here are some of my top tips for topping up your wellbeing cup:
- Take time away from tasks
- Give yourself permission to not be helpful
- Do something unproductive
- Connect with art and nature
- Take solitude to recharge
- Give yourself a break from responsibility
- Practise stillness to decompress
- Go into your safe space
- Make time for alone time at home
Remember to make healthy habits for self-care
Connecting with nature has been our go to in the pandemic and has got us through the monotony of the ground hog day. Research at the Harvard Medical School is growing a scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong link that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex. It explored that interacting with natural spaces offers therapeutic benefits.
The Education People have launched their #WalkForWellbeing campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week. They are sharing ideas of the ways that you can get creative with your walks in nature whilst spending quality time with your loved ones. You can download the resource here
LGfL Resources to Support Mental Health Awareness Week and Beyond
LGfL’s Wellbeing Connected for Primary Schools resource has been designed to bring the key information featuring experienced practitioners through video and text format with a quick and accessible interface.
The resource is grouped into the following areas:
- Why Wellbeing?
- Staff Wellbeing
- Pupil Wellbeing
- Community Wellbeing
- Whole School Approach
- Resources and further links
The portal is designed to be used by staff within schools to plan their whole school approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing and how all parts of the school community can be supported. The expert video clips, information packs and carefully curated external links are provided for staff to deliver comprehensive support. Alongside videos, there are also template policies, wellbeing questionnaires and guidance for schools to use and adapt as well as thinking points that can be used as part of staff development looking at the importance of wellbeing for staff, the community and for the video below the importance of Mental Health and Wellbeing for pupils.
LGfL’s Healthy Minds was produced in partnership with the leading mental health charity for young people – Young Minds. The resource features a range of teacher led activities involving group work promoting self reflection and video content with supporting activities. The main activities are designed for use with learners in upper KS2, KS3 and KS4 with some resources designed for use by staff and/or for parents.
The resource is split into the following sections:
- Mental Health and Resilience Activities For Young People
- Mental Health and Resilience Resources For Staff
- No Harm Done – materials for staff, parents and young people
- Handy Websites and Apps
We are also aware the pandemic has led to many pupils suffering bereavement in their life and this can of course have an impact on their mental health. If you are supporting any pupils with managing their grief please take a look at Supporting a Bereaved Pupil and Managing a Sudden Death in the School Community. Both resources were created in collaboration with Child Bereavement UK. “Managing a Sudden Death” looks at what proactive action you and your staff team can take to support your school community through a bereavement. Grief is a normal and natural response to loss, yet how pupils are supported can have a significant impact on the long term outcomes. This resource looks at making plans to provide the right support at a difficult time. There are sections dedicated to supporting a bereaved family and supporting your staff team at or shortly after a bereavement with more on this in “Supporting a Bereaved Pupil” which looks at supporting learners who have experienced a bereavement.
Reach Out for Help
For Children and Young People
- Young Minds is the UKs leading charity for children and young people’s mental health and offers a huge range of resources
- Childline is a free, confidential service where children can talk about anything. It offers a host of help and information and this includes a Calm Zone
- On My Mind app
- The Mix in partnerships with the Heads Together campaign supports the under 25’s with a wide range of resources including helplines
- Education Support is the leading UK charity to support educator’s wellbeing
- Mentally Healthy Schools brings together quality assured mental health resources, information and advice for schools and further education settings
- The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust provides resources for supporting wellbeing and mental health in schools brings
For Parents and Carers
- Young Minds parent support page
- Barnardo’s supporting children and families
- Place 2 Be resources and support for parents and carers
- Mind UK provides support for people with mental health problems
- The Samaritans a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year support line
- Every Mind Matters is the NHS online tool that gives simple and practical advice to get a healthier mind and to get more out of life