Life can be challenging, but how are we equipping our young generation that is growing up overwhelmed by physical and mental ill-health with the tools to face these challenges? In all aspects of life, we are what we consume and children are inspired by actions, not only words.
Here are 11 tips for looking after our Mental Health which you can start today:
- Get into nature, even for a short walk.
- Learn to manage your emotions.
- Become aware of your inner monologue and speak kindly to yourself.
- Talk to someone you trust or journal down your thoughts and feelings.
- Being kind to others.
- Get more sleep.
- Move your body.
- Eat healthy food and drink more water.
- Do not use drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings.
- Be curious about life and never stop learning.
- Plan things to look forward to.
So, what do we do here at Ackworth School to support our children and help them retain a happy healthy minds?
Staff at Ackworth School, not only teachers, are very good at recognising when children are struggling. We have a very good pastoral system in which we have Tutors in every year group including pastoral and academic leads. Occasionally we have visits from Quaker Friends, who speak, listen, and is here for whomever wishes to speak with them.
We also trust the fact that there are pupils at the school who are very good at noticing if their friends are in a troubled position. An example of this is the support network surrounding our Ukrainian boarders at the moment. We do encourage and require parents to inform us of any ongoing issues, but not everything can be recognised right away. Additionally, we have a professional service available for the children and staff. This is an opportunity to sit and speak about what’s on their minds and how they can navigate their emotion.
A most recent edition to the mental health caring strategy is our peer mentoring, having up to 20 individuals from our Sixth Form come forward and volunteer to be mentors. Part of this will be training for those pupils, but also further training for staff. This is due to begin after half term. We encourage discussions within our PSHE and RSE classes. In our Art subjects children are taught how to express themselves into producing beautiful pieces of work, sometimes exploring hard hitting subjects, and Physical Education around the school always promotes fitness and wellbeing. Our school council are the voice of the pupils, and we work on empowering these children, filling them with the confidence to take on the outside world.
Reflections/Fragments of Self artwork by Harriett Metcalfe
As a school we are actively encouraging children to become more aware of looking after their mental health. Building relationships and trust is everything and as a community we are working daily to improve that. This is reflected in our Quaker culture and ethos. We encourage all individuals in our community to be open, transparent, honest, and approachable. During Quaker meeting, this time can be used to reflect. Taking the opportunity to turn our thoughts inward and ask – am I getting this right? The community feel is a large part of what we teach and live by here. The sense of being a part of something bigger gives us all a sense a purpose. In our boarding house the children are a family and look out for one another.
Out of everything, we encourage everyone to be approachable because you never know when that one individual might reach out to you for support. If you are concerned about a child or a friend, please reach out to Nancy Newlands on Nancy.Newlands@ackworthschool.com
Thank you to the Head, Anton Maree and Senior Deputy Head (Pastoral & Academic) Nancy Newlands for their assistance with this article.