Mental Health and Wellbeing
All Year 11 pupils at Deer Park were off timetable on Tuesday 10 January 2017 for our first Mental Health and Wellbeing Standstill Day.
We believe that the health and wellbeing of our pupils is paramount and the aim of the day was to provide both support and strategies to move forward, now and in the future. We scheduled this inaugural event to take place the week after our Year 11s received their Mock GCSE results. However, by coincidence, the day followed the government's pledge to help schools and companies in England deal with the "hidden injustice" of mental illness.
Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Standstill Day opened in the Main Hall with key note speaker Satveer Nijjar's enthusiasm and passion immediately hooking our pupils' interest. How often, for example, do we ask one another how we are feeling and respond "fine"? But are we really "fine"? Satveer shared information about her own struggles with mental health issues; she was direct but looking to break the stigma so often attached to mental health. Our pupils were encouraged to consider talking about mental health issues rather than feeling that the issues are taboo. She stressed the importance of not labelling people with mental health issues, for example as "weird"; we do not label people with cancer in that way, we call them "brave". Satveer reminded pupils that, with the right support, people with mental health issues can be given the tools to ensure recovery. At the end of her presentation the pupils burst into spontaneous applause.
Throughout the rest of the day pupils worked in groups taking part in hands-on workshops and sessions from a variety of different agencies.
The Child Sexual Exploitation team from Gloucestershire Constabulary gave an insightful presentation on child sexual exploitation in Gloucestershire. Pupils were provided with examples of exploitation in the county. The team explained how important it is to look out for one another and to be able to spot the warning signs that something might be wrong. If it is happening, a young person needs to understand that they are not to blame but that they need to tell someone. The hard-hitting 'Friend Request' film is a powerful watch for both parents and their children.
The volunteers from Samaritans who came in to school reiterated Satveer's message about not labelling people with mental health issues. They focused on the potential dangers of social media and the mental damage that that can be done to young people. Suicide kills three times more people than road traffic accidents. The Samaritans' main message to each of our pupils was to be a good listener and to remember that a problem shared is a problem halved. Karina and her team explained that the majority of people calling Samaritans are people who want someone to talk to. Anyone can contact Samaritans and all information stays completely between the caller and Samaritans, no matter how old you are.
St John Ambulance are first aid and health and safety trainers and came to Deer Park to provide our Year 11s with basic recovery training, which should provide them with the knowledge and confidence to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. The trainers focused on what to do if someone is unconscious and needs to be put into a recovery position. Pupils were also shown how to do CPR and had the opportunity to test what they had learnt on ‘Little Annie’. Ellen and Jean were impressed by our pupils and suggested that pupils (and parents) download the free St John Ambulance First Aid app which provide advice and protocols for all sorts of emergency situations.
Finally, to support our pupils with their examination preparation, Tim Benton’s energetic and practical guide to revision (based on his book, The Brain Box) was well received. Tim used the FIRM Learning acronym (Framework, Imagery, Repeated, Memorable) to provide different strategies to assist our pupils with their revision. He stressed that the mock results our pupils received the previous week are not a reflection of where they can be but are a reflection of where they were then. He suggested that pupils consistently do 15–20 minutes revision each evening and focus on the areas of weakness within their different subject rather than strengths.
>> Tim Benton
The following comments capture impressions from some of our Year 11s:
"The standstill day was very useful and interesting! I learnt lots about mental health issues and how to cope with your own situation, it gave me a real insight to what people really go through. Satveer was also inspiring as she told us what she had been through and how she coped with her mental health issues." Finley
"When we had the talk from Tim, I found his revision tips very helpful especially the A-Z and top ten. He made the talk interesting and engaged us all, I also found this with the other talks. I felt I learnt a lot from the day and has given me some useful information." Sophie
"I thought the standstill day was amazing. The assembly in the morning was so inspirational - just shows you that if Satveer can pull through and change her life anyone can! Tim with the revision chat really changed my perspective on revising; it has made me realise that I need to do so much more work because it will pay off and get the grades I want as it will help me so much in the future. I only have a couple of months but I am determined to get there. The Samaritans was a good chat and surely made pupils feel that they have loads of support out of school or even in school. They gave us contact details which I am sure if pupils feel like they need to talk to someone they will use it. The Child Sexual Exploitation team has made our year group aware of the whole situation - if they think they are in a bad place or worried or feeling uncomfortable, there are loads of people out there to talk to and help. St John Ambulance taught us how to do CPR which is very good for us all to know, so if we are ever in a position where we need to save someone's life, we know what to do. It is very important to know and it was a good chat from Ellen." Izzy
We hope that our Year 11s are now better equipped and empowered to move forward and embrace the next six months, balancing school work and exams with relaxation time.
You may have heard about Mindfulness. This practice originates in Buddhism, but being mindful is a skill that anyone can learn. You do not have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it. As a mind-body approach, it can increase our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices. Read more…
- MIND has some good resources on improving mental wellbeing
- Young People and Mental Health from the NHS
- The Mindfulness App
- 10 Keys to Happiness from Mental Health First Aid
- On Your Mind