At Connaught we are passionate about having open discussions with the children about mental health. Mental Health and wellbeing are very high profile in schools and the media at the moment. At Connaught we recognise the importance of supporting our children not only in times of difficulty but also to help them recognise successes, achievements and feelings of happiness. We work hard to promote a culture at Connaught where children are comfortable to talk about their feelings and seek support and advice when needed. The most recent NHS study has shown that “At least 1 in 8 young people (aged 5-19) have a diagnosed mental health condition.’ Suicide is the third leading cause of death for school-aged children over 8 years old, and the second leading cause for those over 15 years old. One of the most important things we can do at Connaught is to talk to pupils about mental health in a non-stigmatising way, explaining that it affects us all and is not black and white but a spectrum.
We spend time talking to the children and reminding them that there’s no such thing as a perfect body or mind – and no one is perfectly healthy! Your child might be tempted to compare themselves to other children, especially on social media, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies and minds are different – and that is something to celebrate. Mental health is all about the thoughts people are having, how they are feeling because of these thoughts and how these thoughts and feelings are affecting their actions and behaviour. We explore what mental health looks like and that sometimes it may be feelings of happiness, excitement, love (comfortable feelings) and sometimes it may be feelings of worry, fear, sadness (uncomfortable feelings). We discuss that everyone’s mental health is different and no two people experience the same as we are all different.
‘Our teachers are always friendly and honest. They design fun activities that help us learn for ourselves.’
In addition to regular discussions and activities, once a year we hold a dedicated mental health week. During the week your child will have many opportunities to participate in discussions and activities that reinforce this message and look at strategies to help them manage their emotions.
‘I loved the outdoor circuits, I never knew I could use fresh running water on my hands to calm me down.’
‘The sleep workshop really helped me, I now turn all my devices off an hour before bed. I don’t struggle to fall asleep anymore.’
A selection of just a few mental health projects linked to ‘expressing yourself’ 2021’s national theme.