A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 8 February 2018

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, an annual campaign to support children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. And across the country, E-ACT pupils and staff have been taking part in talks and events to highlight the importance of managing mental health.

Personalised mental health curricula

As part of our aim to produce academy specific mental health curricula, Year 5 and Year 9 students in the Midlands have been contributing their thoughts and experiences at a number of mental health curriculum workshops.

This Monday marked the last of three workshops, where pupils had been tasked with collecting information to inform their personalised mental health curriculum, exploring their own emotional wellbeing and considering the difficulties and issues that other members of their academy community might face.  Ali Quinn, E-ACT’s mental health lead, explains why involving students in the development process is so important.

“We want to ensure that the curriculum delivered in each academy meets the specific needs of the pupils based in their individual contexts, therefore ensuring that the curriculum is relevant and valuable to pupils.”

Over the course of the workshops, students also learned about different mental health difficulties and devised their own action plan to build awareness and promote emotional wellbeing within their communities.

Mindfulness for Year 7 students

Back at their academies, Heartlands and North Birmingham Academy students also took part in a series of assemblies and tutor time activities. Heartlands held a Mental Health Awareness Day for Year 7 and Year 8 students, which included interactive workshops on managing emotions and researching factors linked to mental health. Year 7 students relaxed in to their mindfulness session, which involved taking time out to meditate on mats in the sports hall.

Yoga at Perry Court

At Perry Court, staff and pupils held their own Mental Health Awareness Week at the end of last term. Pupils took part in assemblies throughout the week, learning about mental health and the importance of looking after their emotional wellbeing. Each class was visited by a yoga teacher, who played music and taught pupils some useful relaxation techniques. Pupils thoroughly enjoyed the time out to relax.

“Doing yoga in class was really different from anything I’d done before. It was really relaxing and made me feel quiet inside. The instructor made everything peaceful and the music made me forget about everything in my head and made it feel clearer.” Ella Williams, Year 5.

“Staff can support me, take care of me and listen to my worries.”

Pupils at Greenfield have also been taking part in a range of activities to mark Children’s Mental Health Week, with each class watching a video on understanding mental health and producing posters to raise awareness. Throughout the year, staff use the Thrive approach to support pupils’ social and emotional development through a range of small group and individual activities.

“The children all know how Thrive works and supports them here at Greenfield, and know this is their safe space to come for support.” Sarah Purnell, Learning Mentor and Mental Health Lead

For many pupils at Greenfield, this support has had a noticeable impact.

“It’s important and I feel safe. I’m able to manage my feelings, I’ve got better at doing my work now and the adults know me.” JK, Year 5, Greenfield E-ACT Academy

We’re proud that academies across the trust are engaging with this important issue, and we’re sure that E-ACT staff and students will keep learning, talking and supporting one another throughout this week and beyond.