Autumn was glorious

Steve Rippin
Steve Rippin, is Assistant Headteacher, responsible for personal development at Tapton School, Sheffield. Disclaimer: This is an independent blog and ACAMH may not necessarily hold the same views.

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World Mental Health Day on 10 October saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Prince of Wales flying the flag to raise awareness through Heads Together and the Royal Foundation. Tapton School marked the day by asking students to commit to a random, anonymous act of kindness to another person. It was heart-warming listening to their acts and reflection on how they felt it impacted on the recipient and themselves as the giver.

‘Make mental health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools’ was the focus of a welcome and topical debate in the House of Commons on the 6 November.

The power of social media was used to full effect to gather 100,000 e-petition signatures led by The Shaw Mind Foundation to trigger this momentous achievement.

A YouGov poll found:

79% of British parents believe that children should be taught more about mental health in schools

92% of teenagers aged 14 to 18 think mental health should be discussed in lessons at school (Censuswide)

80% of British parents believe protecting their children’s mental health is a top concern

The Shaw Mind Foundation campaigned that understanding mental health is an absolute life skill and should be taught to every child. Teaching students the signs and symptoms of mental health and wellbeing is crucial to support wellbeing and positive mental health. The key is ensuring that students feel confident and are able to discuss issues in a supportive environment. Staff training is also vital so they have the knowledge to be able to successfully deliver lessons. At the very heart of this being successful is schools embracing a culture of positive mental health because they see the benefits of good mental health and wellbeing for students, staff and the wider community.

Mental health in all workplaces, was brought into sharp focus following the government publication of ‘Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers’ (Oct 2017).

This report highlighted how employers can better support employees which is good for business and productivity. I believe this is especially true in schools. Fundamentally, school staff can only deliver great pastoral care and lessons if they are in good mental health and their wellbeing is at the forefront of an organisation’s mind.

At Tapton we have championed staff mental health and wellbeing. At the beginning of the year I asked staff to share a photo and brief sentence explaining how they look after their mental health and wellbeing. Activities organised in school ranging from a coffee and cake get together at break, art therapy sessions after school, walking clubs and for the more energetic, circuit training. Our mental health and wellbeing and resilience worker, offers confidential drop-in sessions for staff as well. I believe any support we offer students we should look to offer staff as well. Positive mental health and wellbeing needs to be at the very heart of a school, a key part of its everyday practice.

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