5 tips for World Mental Health Day 2020

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In the last few years we have seen an increasing focus on wellbeing in society and an increasing pressure on schools to meet the wellbeing needs of the communities they serve. More so, to support the mental health needs of a generation of children.

As a Headteacher, I led a school with a holistic approach to education. We made choices in our school to create a culture of wellbeing and to create a universal entitlement for all. We worked with Dr Neil Hawkes and his team at Values-based Education to: curate an Inner Curriculum of mindfulness; to create safe spaces in our school with specialist provision such as a Nurture Room, a Thrive Room and an Art Therapy Room; to partner with national providers such as The Art Room, MHFA, Place2Be and Thrive. We trained staff to be Trauma-aware, and as Mental Health First Aiders and Thrive Practitioners.

Working with the Charlie Waller Trust we curated a series of regional training opportunities which brought together a cross-phase, cross-sector community of support. Harnessing the agency of those who attended we launched a regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Network which is still going strong.

World Mental Health Day is a spotlight each Autumn, as is Children’s Mental Health Week in the Spring. An opportunity to share best practice but equally an opportunity to reflect. As a profession, education is being pulled in all directions – the increasingly complex priorities of teachers, leaders and governors is unaided by the precarious nature of school funding.

I am hopeful that in the next year we can all be more proactive, preventative and pre-emptive to meeting the needs of the communities we serve, and less reactive and responsive. A system-wide coordinated approach is needed to enable students, teachers and leaders to thrive. Here are some ideas to consider for your school on World Mental Health Day 2020 and beyond:

5 tips for World Mental Health Day 2020

  1. Evaluate staff and student voice around mental health and wellbeing at your school
  2. Create safe spaces in your school e.g. a nurture room
  3. Nominate a member of staff to complete the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training
  4. Ensure your safeguarding team have supervision in place
  5. Put World Mental Health Day on the calendar for 2020 and get your community to all say #helloyellow

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October 2020.

Useful links:

World Mental Health Federation >

Mind >

Mental Health Foundation >

World Health Organization >

About the author

Hannah WilsonA former Teacher of English, Drama and Media Studies and an Executive Headteacher, Hannah is now Head of Secondary School Teacher Training at the University of Buckingham. She is a MAT Trustee and founder of #WomenEd and #LeanInGirlsUK. Hannah is a teaglo Champion. Connect with her on teaglo here.

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