Last month, Protocol Education supported Children's Mental Health Week, an annual event launched by Place2Be in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of supporting children's emotional wellbeing from an early age. As a business we raised nearly £500 for place2Be.
Our Middlesbrough and Newcastle teams promoted Children's Mental Health Week to schools in the North East with their "Express Yourself" competition. The competition tied in with Children's Mental Health Week focus on the different ways people can express themselves. Schools were invited to show us how they and their pupils expressed themselves during the week.
We received a huge range of entries. From dressing-up, to writing poetry, painting a picture to dancing. The schools from across the North East certainly knew how to express themselves. The winner of the 2021 "Express yourself" competition came from Mortimer Community College in South Shields who won a delicious Hotel Chocolat hamper for organising an amazing 42 individual wellbeing activities for children parents and staff as well as their cluster schools.
Children’s Mental Health and overall well-being is something that Mortimer consistently works hard to promote. This was particularly important for Children’s Mental Health Week. Lyn Shakespeare, School Mental Health Lead, explained to us how at this difficult time she felt it is vital to be an advocate for both staff and pupils to take time to look after their mental health.
As part of the school’s promotion of Children’s Mental Health Week, the theme of all PSHE lessons and assemblies were around Mental Health. The PE lessons for the week were bespoke to Children’s Mental Health Week where there was a number of mindfulness tasks for the pupils to complete. Some activities included yoga, origami, scribbling, drawing, mindfulness meditation and breathing.
Pupils and staff were also given the opportunity to express themselves in a variety of ways such as-
A picture they had drawn
A song or poem they had written
A book review
Something they had cooked or baked
A design of an outfit they would like to wear
A scenic photograph
Joanne Thornton, the school’s Deputy Head Teacher also organised a wellbeing curriculum drop down day off for pupils and staff. She was very aware that both staff and pupils were spending a lot more time in front of a screen, which can have a large impact on people’s overall health and wellbeing. With the help of staff, she organised 42 well-being activities for pupils and staff to choose to take part in.
The school pushes for academic success and to create a safe space for its pupils. If pupils do not feel safe, they aren’t ready to learn. One strategy for this includes highlighting when staff are available for pupils to drop in for chats. Joanne also believes that creating links with the feeder primary schools is essential for reducing anxiety and supporting pupils moving up into secondary. Children’s Mental Health Week was an example of this; Joanne shared and encouraged the local primaries to take part in the week’s activities.
Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing doesn’t stop with the pupils. Joanne and Lyn are keen to support staff and parents and carers too. Joanne has worked hard to ensure staff workload and unnecessary data tasks are reduced. They noted how pleased they were that adults within the Mortimer Community had also taken part in the wellbeing activities for Children’s Mental Health Week. They are acutely aware that physical activity is often a mood enhancer and because of this organised an event in December called Fitmas before Xmas which included yoga, colouring and sports sessions for both staff and students. This was also reflected in their mental health week activities. After the untimely death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, Mortimer, led by Joanne, moved fast to implement a ‘Be Kind’ day which promoted the importance of being kind to yourself and others. The day was packed full of random acts of kindness, including gifts left around the school, different wellbeing activities and drop-in sessions.
The Middlesbrough and Newcastle teams cannot wait to support Children's Mental Health Week to schools in 2022.