Posted: 7th February 2022

Prep 1 Teacher, Miss Barlett, shares her views on Mental Health, as a Mental Health Coordinator at Leweston Prep and how we can come together to be more aware of the meaning of mental health in time for Children’s Mental Health week beginning on the 7 February.

Now, more than ever, the phrase ‘mental health‘ is used, and heard, within our communities. Unpicking what this exactly means is the crux of knowing how best to support our own, and others, mental health. Ultimately, mental health is something that we all innately have, comparable to a state of physical health. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It should be thought of as a spectrum, again, similar to physical health. For example, dramatically changing fitness states does not happen overnight, as much as we perhaps wish it would, nor are we simply either fit or unfit. In the same way, mental health is not purely boxed emotions that we switch between, but instead a spectrum of feelings that we can fluctuate between either daily or over time. When our mental health is good, we feel motivated and able to take on challenges and new experiences. However, when our mental health is towards the lower end of the spectrum, we can find it considerably harder to cope.

Sadly, the age at which mental health issues are being exposed is becoming increasingly younger. As found by Mentalhealth.gov ‘Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three-quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24’. Whilst, this figure is alarming, there are many basic ways we can support young people. These range from the ease of walking outside and noticing the wonders of the world around us, to completing some mindfulness colouring, to more structured approaches such as ‘high 5’ activities. Within this type of activity, the individual thinks of five reasons to be thankful, five reasons it’s good to be you, or five things that bring joy.

As I begin my second year as the Mental Health Coordinator at Leweston Prep, having completed ‘Mental Health First Aid Training’, I am becoming increasingly confident in understanding the strategies and skills required to support mental health in adults and young people. Every teacher at Leweston has impeccable understanding and knowledge about the children in their class and quickly flag any child who may need children to require extra emotional support. From this, I plan a 6-week course for the child, based on strategies and techniques that best help them to overcome barriers and difficulties that they face. Although each session has a plan and an end goal, the ultimate purpose of the meeting is to give the child a safe place to discuss anything they wish and to have an adult dedicating time to listen solely to them.

With Children’s Mental Health week beginning on the 7th February, now is the perfect time for us all to become more aware of the meaning of mental health, how best to boost our own and become aware of and challenge the stigmas that surround it, still, in society today. So, whether it’s putting your wellies on and challenging yourself to step outside and notice the wonders of the world or putting your phone away to become more present in the moment, take five mindful minutes out of your busy schedules to focus on you today. For more information and helpful tips, please see here.

Resources from Children’s Mental Health Week website.

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