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Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week has been another opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate all the work we do to promote the mental health and wellbeing of children throughout the year. 

This includes our twice daily mindfulness sessions and our rich PSHE curriculum.The national theme this year is body image.  With our two sports weeks this year and our ongoing focus in PE when we discuss how physical activity makes us feel, we cover this theme in an age appropriate way on a regular basis. 

As a school we have used this week to promote “5 steps to mental wellbeing” which is the emotional health and wellbeing equivalent of the five a day advicefor healthy eating.

This advice is very age appropriate for our children but can be used by any age group to support mental health…including ourselves…we thought you would be interested in finding out about the five steps as well as how we have explored them with the children.

CONNECT - This is about spending time with people, building in time for relationships and connection to others and sharing experiences, both every day and special. It could be something as simple as children talking to their family or arranging a day out with a friend. On Wednesday the children had lunch in their family groups, this gave children from Reception, Year One and Year Two a chance to build relationships with other children in the school.The caterpillars thought about nature and giving while they prepared the hall for everyone to enjoy.

TRY SOMETHING NEW- KEEP LEARNING - Young people get a great sense of achievement when they have the chance to acquire new skills. Children who engage regularly in learning that is not school work, such as reading for fun, report better levels of wellbeing than those who don’t. Across the week the children made friendship bracelets,   many of them using plaiting…they had to be very careful and patient as they learnt to make them. 

EXERCISE- Exercise is about being active, not (necessarily) about going to the gym! Walking the dog, taking the stairs instead of a lift or escalator, going for a cycle ride with a friend are all good ways of being active. Children and young people who do regular exercise have higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who don’t. This week our typical high levels of activity for children continued but with the added fun of trying out something new…either a new sport, completing sport with new people or being active outdoors in our new outside learning space.   

APPRECIATE- Taking the time to stop and notice things in our environment is surprisingly good for our wellbeing. Children and young people who notice and enjoy their surroundings on most days are significantly less likely to have low levels of wellbeing – of all the Five Ways, this seems to have the greatest impact. Practicing mindfulness can also be a positive way to take notice and appreciate simple things.This week we combined some of our mindfulness sessions with being outside.

 GIVE TO OTHERS - Giving is really about kindness, not just money or material things. Children who have opportunities to learn things for fun have higher levels of wellbeing than those who don’t. So, for younger children, in whom “creativity, play and imagination” were shown to promote wellbeing, it can be good to offer activities that include “giving” in a broad sense. Across the week the children made smile tokens which they were able to share with children and adults across the school. As they gave them some children also gave beautiful compliments to the person they had chosen to give the token to.