Page 16 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 16

 Focus on Mental Health
Digital Detox!
As many around the globe took note of World Mental Health Day last month (October), Felsted School, Essex, championed a Digital Detox Day, in recognition of the rising level of adolescent mental health issues, and the apparent link with social media and digital addiction. The initiative was part of the school’s determination to promote emotional and mental health...
Felsted has become more and more aware of the stresses and anxieties caused by children and staff being expected to be ‘on- line’ all the time, and has held Digital Detox days in house trials over the past few years. Feedback on these trials has shown that many children  nd it ‘a relief’
for their phones to be restricted so they are clear of distractions and can get on with having real conversations.
This year all phones were switched off and there were
no internal emails from 9am
to 5.45pm. A group of Year
9s interviewed students later
on in the day with an almost unanimous positive response;
‘it gave us a chance to breathe’, ‘we didn’t sit around at break scrolling through our social media feed, but took time to enjoy chatting with friends’, ‘it made
us realise how much we use our electronics on a daily basis’. One teacher commented; ‘everyone seemed generally happier’ and another; ‘we managed to get out of our classrooms more than usual as we were not stuck sending and replying to emails’.
Felsted has recognised the importance of mental wellbeing by creating a Wellbeing Centre. Located right at the heart of the school, the Centre is a calming and relaxing place for pupils
and members of the Felsted community to take time out for short periods during their busy day. The décor is purposefully natural, the furniture comfortable and relaxing, with a focus on a sensory experience.
The room is used for PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) lessons and a number of activities associated
with wellbeing so all pupils
will become familiar with the environment. These activities might include Mindfulness, Counselling, Yoga, Pilates, Peer Counselling and Safeguarding training. The Wellbeing Centre will be a shared facility between the Senior School and the Prep School, looking after over 1000 pupils, 300 staff and parents.
The Centre is managed
by Felsted’s Deputy Head, Counselling and Wellbeing, Mrs Karen Megahey, who will be based in the centre. She said: “Our aim is to create an oasis of tranquillity to give people the space they need to recharge their emotional batteries on a regular basis.”
The Wellbeing Centre not only has one large sensory room, but also two counselling rooms and a private meeting room that can be used by Felsted’s team
of counsellors for one-to-one therapy sessions and therapeutic group work.
Headmaster, Chris Townsend, said; “Felsted is committed to promoting excellent emotional and mental health for all members of our community and our new Wellbeing Centre and Counselling Service will be a vital step in meeting these needs.”
The Centre will be opening of cially next term, but is already in use with all pupils being introduced to the Wellbeing Centre through their PSHE lessons. Children are already taking advantage of the easy access Counselling Support
which aims to provide fast and accessible intervention to prevent any on-going distress and long term problems.
Mental health awareness training
A new online course looking at mental health and emotional wellbeing in young people, highlighting some signs and symptoms, along with myths and the stigma associated with mental health issues, has been launched for school staff.
YoungMinds, the UK charity championing the wellbeing and mental health of young people is involved with the project. Hannah Kinsey, Training Manager from YoungMinds said: “An important part of Mental Health Awareness training is to work to reduce the stigma of mental health. Our new
course developed with EduCare informs and educates, and will provide a vital tool to any educator.”
The online course covers common Mental Health issues faced by children and young people, how to build resilience and what support mechanisms can be put in place for those experiencing Mental Health problems.
The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem. With one in ten children between the ages of 5 and 16
suffering from a mental health condition, it is vital that this
is a high agenda item for all schools and anyone working with children and young people.
After completing this course staff will:
• Understand what mental health is in the context of the mental health continuum.
• Be able to identify some common issues faced by young people with regard to mental health.
• Recognise some of the signs and symptoms that indicate
mental health issues in young people.
• Understand key risk factors that make some young people vulnerable to mental health issues.
• Learn about protective factors that build resilience in young people and some of the myths and stigma surrounding mental health issues.
• Pick up practical advice to help you support young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
 The course costs £27.50 and is available at 16 Independent Schools Magazine

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