Main picture: Heathfield School circle of friends
Today (10 October) and throughout the week, Independent Education Today will be running a campaign to highlight the importance of mental health for children, staff, and parents to coincide with this year’s World Mental Health Day.
With NHS figures showing that nearly half a million young people are being referred for mental health problems every month, mental health has never been more important.
This year’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is to “make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.
The IET campaign will focus on how independent schools support mental health. We will be highlighting how sport plays a powerful role in boosting confidence and positivity, how art and connecting with nature help with feelings of wellbeing, and how caring for animals creates calm.
The range of initiatives covered through the week demonstrate the creativity and commitment of independent schools to deepening emotional intelligence and providing a clear vocabulary for children to express a full range of emotions.
Leaders in the field cover the importance of a whole school approach and why it is essential that parents and teachers’ wellbeing is also built into dedicated programmes that do not just run for one day but are intrinsic to all work running throughout the year.
‘It is so uplifting to see school communities coming together through wellbeing initiatives, and we welcome efforts to raise awareness of mental health and the support available to those who need it’ _ Julie Robinson, chief executive Independent Schools Council
Activities are fun, engaging and age appropriate from nursery children to high school. Many schools have chosen to support the charity Young Minds, say #HelloYello campaign. Whether wearing yellow, planting daffodils for spring colour or creating artwork, the aim is to start and consider emotional wellbeing, discuss what this means and to develop strategies to manage emotions.
Comment from the Independent Schools Council
Commenting on this year’s World Mental Health Day, Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council said:
“School communities are dedicated to the welfare of children and do crucial work in this area. We are all grateful to the teachers and support staff who make a real difference to children’s lives by supporting them and providing a caring and understanding environment that helps them thrive.
“Over recent years, schools have amplified their commitment to improving the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in their school communities and especially pupils and staff. A number of schools have developed this work into partnership programmes, ensuring more people can access valuable support.
It became even more of a priority during the pandemic, when lockdown restrictions limited opportunities for social interaction. It is so uplifting to see school communities coming together through wellbeing initiatives, and we welcome efforts to raise awareness of mental health and the support available to those who need it.”
Support from the Independent Schools Association
The Independent Schools Association Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, chief executive officer of ISA, wholly supports the initiatives to support mental health and wellbeing that are taking place across ISA members’ schools, of which there are soon to be over 600 across the UK and overseas.
“ISA Members are dedicated to maintaining cultures that promote wellbeing for both staff and students. There are numerous examples of environments that are progressive in supporting mental health across the ISA.
“At ISA, fellowship has always been at the heart of what we do, and this has allowed for a growing network of pastoral support for heads and school staff to flourish for over 140 years. Crucially, these connections continue to provide us with the opportunity to share best practice in promoting wellbeing and supporting mental health across our entire membership and the wider education sector.”
You might be interested in: Can we stem the mental health hole during a cost of living crisis?
More about the World Mental Health Federation
The World Mental Health Federation has been working for over 70 years, to make sure that mental health is treated on a par with physical health. The WMHF calls on national and local government to reduce factors known to pose a risk to people’s mental health, enhance those known to protect it and create the conditions needed for people to thrive. As part of the day, the organisation is sharing its research-backed guidance for good mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/publications/our-best-mental-health-tip