How are you really?
How is your mental health? More importantly, how do you know?
This is not a blog based on any kind of science, which as a Science teacher is a bit strange. This is based purely on my own experience. If you ask Google which are the most stressful jobs in the UK – teaching features really highly and usually in the top 3. If you extend this search to include the rest of the world, teaching is still up there but does not quite make the top 10. That is interesting in itself and probably says a lot about the demands and expectations of teachers in this country, but not for this blog. I do, however, think that working in one of the most highly stressed jobs entitles me to an opinion. That is what this blog is!
For much of my life I would have disregarded this blog on the basis of its subject matter. Mental Health was something that happened to other people and not to me. Pretty short-sighted, I know, but quite typical of attitudes across my demographic. For a very long time I was unwilling to even acknowledge Mental Health, let alone admit to having any kind of issue. How foolish! I honestly believe that we all face our own challenges regarding our Mental Health and to deny this only serves to make the problems worse. So here it is: I have Mental Health issues and on occasion, I struggle. This does not mean I have a problem or am unusual, it simply means that I am aware of my own Mental Health and take care to ensure it remains robust.
All my life I have taken care of my physical health. I exercise, eat well, have vaccinations when I should and go to a doctor when I am ill (mostly). I am a bit of a data geek and have tracked my progress using a variety of metrics such as heart rate, power, mileage, e.t.c. So what should I do about my Mental Health? I should do exactly THE SAME! I need to look after this aspect of my being as well as I do the physical. I have learnt to do so as I have grown older, I am not there yet but I have improved. I have even begun looking at some metrics and it works! But that again, is a different blog. What I have learnt is that for me, the two are very closely linked and neglecting one results in the other suffering.
Mental Health is one of the three key development areas on Edenhurst Preparatory School’s development plan. That in no way means we have a problem. Our children are exceptionally privileged compared to many of their counterparts but that does not mean their lives are perfect and without difficulty. They will all face challenges with their own Mental Health at stages in their lives and as a school we believe that it is our responsibility to equip them with the skills to do so. We also acknowledge that there is no panacea – if only it was as straightforward as that.
By destigmatising Mental Health and allowing children to talk about their struggles represents a great first step in the right direction. The increased awareness and sensitivity of our staff is already beginning to make a difference. The introduction of a daily mile has had a noticeable effect on physical and mental wellbeing and has resulted in calmer more focussed learners. Mindfulness as part of our PSHE scheme has equipped children with a skillset that helps them cope with stress. All of our form tutors have been trained Mental Health First Aiders and this will be rolled out to other members of staff soon.
We recognise that we are at the very beginning of a journey and that there are many avenues to explore but we are extremely excited to see where it leads us.Categories: School Blogs