Mental Health Awareness Week
Spending time outdoors has been a key coping mechanism for people during the Covid-19 pandemic. Highlighted in recent research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation, nearly half (45%) of people in the UK said that visiting green spaces, such as parks, helped them to cope.
The theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is 'Connect with Nature' and all of our schools have introduced elements into their curriculum to encourage discussions around this.
50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 (source). It is extremely important that we have these conversations and raise awareness of mental health and how nature can play it's part to prevent distress and create good mental health.
Mental Health has been a Trust-wide focus this year, with all schools implementing the Thrive Approach last September. Thrive is a leading provider of tools and training to help adults support the social and emotional development of the children and young people they are working with. Broadfield Academy focused their Mental Health Awareness Week around the key Thrive strategies and continuing to teach them to their children. They have truly embraced their partnership with Thrive and introduced Thrive activity boxes as a key wellbeing teaching tool in their weekly wellbeing sessions. These boxes provide resources and videos for staff to use in their classrooms, aiding emotional learning and supporting pupil and staff wellbeing.
The Grove Academy implemented a wellbeing activity schedule for each day of Mental Health Awareness Week; Mindful Monday, Take a break Tuesday, Wellbeing Wednesday, Take a break for Teachers Thursday and Feel Good Friday. Staff were provided with a variety of creative resources to help them engage their children, including brain break cards for deep breathing exercises, Makaton alphabet videos and uplifting music.
Supporting positive mental health is extremely important to Bovingdon Primary Academy, so they decided to introduce an 'Outdoor Classroom Day'. All children had the opportunity to take part in outdoor team building activities, English lessons, Maths lessons and reading, and enjoy wellbeing exercises, including mindful looking, yoga and circle time. The day also encouraged creativity, with each child painting their own rock. Their rock designs were inspired by something that represents them and will be used as part of a school art installation in the near future.
Bovingdon Primary Academy also have a beautiful nature area, named Springfield. With a resident chicken, this area is used regularly and has definitely been utilised during Mental Health Awareness Week. The school also hosted a local farm visit, when some of the younger children were given the opportunity to interact with the animals.
Rock painting has also been a popular activity at Bedmond Academy this week, with children decorating them with positive words and sayings. Some of the children have also been making bird feeders and drawing pictures of different ways they can connect with nature. Artwork from throughout the week is being pulled together to create a whole school wellbeing display board.
These are just a few examples of how the Trust and our schools are working hard to raise awareness of mental health and share ideas on ways to promote positive feelings. Working with Thrive, our aim is to support and encourage the development of confident, curious, creative and capable children, who are open to learning and better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs.