Each year the World Health Organisation recognises the 10th of October as World Mental Health Day. As with all awareness days, weeks and months you could say, “Shouldn’t we be thinking about mental health all the time? What’s so special about this one day?” and of course, you would be right. Like all awareness days, World Mental Health Awareness Day is an opportunity to focus our mind and remind us of the fact we should all be aware of our own mental health and that of the other people in our lives/care.
This year’s World Mental Health Awareness Day’s theme is ‘Mental Health For All’.
It’s hard to discuss mental health at the moment without acknowledging the profound effects that the Covid19 outbreak has had upon people’s mental wellbeing. Some people have suggested that some changes made to their daily routines have been beneficial for them e.g. They have been able to spend more time with their family and have not spent time on a daily commute. However, for millions of people the impact has been devastating! There are huge concerns regarding loss of earnings, feelings of isolation and anxiety about being out in public and contracting the illness are just a few amongst the many challenges people are currently facing.
As an education community there are many factors that pose a risk to our mental health and we’d like to share some resources and guidance which we hope will be of some help during these difficult times.
Schools are in a unique position when it comes to the mental health of the children in their care, to shape and influence the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils. LGfL worked with schools to produce Wellbeing Connected (wbc.lgfl.net), an open-access resource for primary schools; designed to bring the key information in both a video and text format with a quick and accessible interface.
Many schools are bringing topics around mental health into their curriculum and Healthy Minds (healthyminds.lgfl.net) is an LGfL resource that may be able to support this important work within schools. Created in partnership with Young Minds, Healthy Minds can support staff and young people to gain a better understanding of mental health. This resource includes activities for young people, resources for staff and materials which can be shared with parents as well as links out to further information.
Bereavement is always going to be a challenging topic and many school communities will now be supporting learners who have recently experienced bereavement. LGfL has two resources which can help you support those who have experienced a bereavement.
‘Managing a Sudden Death in the School Community’ (bereavement.lglfl.net) has been created in collaboration with Child Bereavement UK and 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.
‘Supporting a Bereaved’ Pupil (sabp.lgfl.net) is another collaboration between LGfL and Child Bereavement UK. This resource looks at supporting learners who have experienced a bereavement at some point. It has been created to help school staff’s understanding, skills and confidence to support pupils and their families when they experience a bereavement.
Communication or Learning Difficulties
It is also vital that, right now, we pay close attention to the additional impact of Covid19 on our learners with additional needs. Many with some form of learning disability will find all the changes even harder to manage than their neurotypical peers. Frequent changes to regulations, updates to schools rules and routines can create even more anxiety amongst those with cognitive or communication needs. Many mental health websites listed below have specific information about supporting those with learning disabilities such as autism.
Other helpful Sources of Information
There is a lot of information and support for Mental Health Day available online and the following are some great places to start looking.
The 10th of October falls on a Saturday this year. However, don’t miss the opportunity to focus your school’s attention on the huge importance of looking after your whole school community’s mental health. We all face incredible challenges right now and if we don’t look after ourselves how can we look after each other?
Are you holding an assembly about mental health awareness day or using this as an opportunity to deliver training or lessons about mental health? Are your learners producing plays, posters or other work to share these important messages? Are going to use any of the LGfL resources above to help?