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Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Looking after our mental well-being 

Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (14th- 20th May). Ms McNee, who is Lead in SEMH at Leeds City Academy, writes about how we look out for students and staff’s mental well-being and how we encourage students to speak about it.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, and this years’ theme of stress, we have lots of new and exciting interactive displays going up around the Academy and in the library, where staff and students can identify how they currently deal with stress and pledge how they will continue to look after their mental health.

Our librarians have also been busy creating a ‘little library’ for staff to use to look after their own well-being. There is a dedicated tutor time activity around ‘Stress’ and we are currently looking for Teen Mental Health Champions in Y7-10, which is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our young people. 

Research released as part Mental Health Awareness Week, by the Mental Health Foundation tells us that “Over the past year, 74% of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope”.  MindMate research estimates that at least 10% of young people in Leeds are “likely to have a mental health issue or need support with their emotional well-being”.

This is an alarming statistic, which is why Leeds City Academy have been working closely with MindMate to ensure that we become a MindMate Friendly Setting and MindMate Champions – which we are well on the way to achieving!

In our school, we have been working incredibly hard to tackle the stigma around mental health and encourage students, staff and visitors to know that it is ‘ok to talk about mental health.’ Through regular CPD, we are trying to increase staff confidence in communicating with young people about mental health and emotional well-being in order to provide outstanding pastoral care and direct families to services as quickly as possible. We are particularly proud of our staff working group, which started last half term and meet every fortnight.

During a recent Step Up Day, Year 11 students took part in Mindfulness, martial arts and yoga workshops to help them de-stress in the run-up to their exams. We also have a number of specific interventions to support different Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing issues and conditions; which are thoroughly enjoyed and valued by students.

Photo: Year 11 students taking part in a yoga sessions as part of Step Up Day. 

We understand that life can be challenging for young people. School, work, home and relationships can often leave our students with strong emotions and feelings to manage. To support this, we have recently launched Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing sessions with all students which focus on comfortable and uncomfortable feelings, healthy and unhealthy relationships, life changes, challenging disrespectful and discriminatory behaviour and strategies for coping. This work in tutor time compliments our fantastic SMSC and PSHE curriculum. Staff are encouraged to look at how their curriculum areas can be enhanced by including links to Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing.