Putting children’s mental health first

5 February 2021

Marking the importance of Children’s Mental Health Week, 1-7 February, a number of activities and initiatives centred around this year’s theme of ‘Express Yourself’ were on offer to the girls at St Mary’s. 

Pupils across the year groups at St Mary’s Lower School took part in a challenge set by Director of the Lower School, Mrs Stanhope around happiness. A fantastic collection of colourful and creative posters was produced, expressing all the things that makes the Lower School girls happy. The girls in Year 1 are keeping Kindness Diaries and this week were taking part in acts of kindness such as posting letters to friends, making storytelling videos and looking after elderly relatives’ pets. Year 5 pupils have been looking at emotions with Year 2 focusing on worries. The Year 2 girls made worry boxes, as a way of sharing and prompting discussions around any concerns they might have. Wellbeing jars and emotion monsters were created by Year 5 pupils which helped to identify strategies of how to cope during difficult times. The girls also created their own mindfulness drawings to colour in, encouraging them to take time to relax and enjoy expressing themselves through creative activities.

The student-led Art Council at the Senior School have been encouraging their peers to express themselves creatively through doodling and photography challenges, based upon the seasons with some impressive results being produced. St Mary’s Wellbeing Ambassadors, Kathleen and Jemima in Year 11 featured as special guests on St Mary’s School Radio offering top tips for Wellbeing such as the importance of spending time outdoors and enjoying the natural world. A weekly Wellbeing newsletter is sent to all Senior School students and their parents, with advice on ways for the girls to maintain a healthy mental mindset with top tips, recipes and a weekly competition. This week’s edition focused on the theme of ‘Expressing Yourself’ and encouraged the students to find ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity and engage in activities that helped the girls to feel good. The winner of this week’s competition was Emma in Year 9 who expressed her passion for Textiles and made a teddy bear.

Principal, Mrs Hilary Vipond said “At St Mary’s we recognise the importance of Children’s Mental Health and we put the girls’ wellbeing first, particularly during this hugely challenging time. It has been fantastic to see examples of our students expressing themselves and finding creative ways in which to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings for Children’s Mental Health Week. We pride ourselves on the fact that each individual is known and understood and there is a culture in the school community – our staff as well as our pupils – of caring for each other. In this environment, our young people develop the strength of character and the self-confidence they need to thrive.”

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