Mental Health Awareness Week
This week marks Mental Health Awareness week, its aim is to provide space to have open conversations about mental health, raise awareness and challenge stigma. The theme surrounding this year’s week is Loneliness.
Ms Perks began the week in Senior School hosting a Morning Meeting on the link between dopamine, a brain chemical that influences your mood and feelings, and mobile phones. Although a valuable communication tool mobile phones and social media can often lead us to feeling low or even lonely. Ms Perks spoke of the need to make a habit of checking our phones less frequently and not relying on social media but to instead get that sense of happiness from face-to-face interactions with people. She encouraged the girls to have conversations with friends and families and challenged them to reduce their screen time this week!
Mental Health and Wellbeing
As experts in educating girls and supporting their mental health, at The Mount we continually look to new ways to help boost girls’ wellbeing and mental health. In our last ISI inspection The Mount was praised for our approach to girls’ mental health, the report noted “Pupils know when to seek help; they described with great warmth the mental health support they receive from medical staff.”
The Mount’s approach to wellbeing begins with the Quaker values; simplicity, truth, equality, peace and social justice. These core values help instil the girls with a sense of calmness and community. The Quaker practice of silent Meetings, or rather ‘gathered stillness’, has been part of The Mount’s ethos since the School’s inception in 1785. Today we continue to take time to come together as a community to be still, to think and to reflect. Many people compare this to the idea of mindfulness.
In recent years mindfulness has become a trend linked to promoting improved health and wellbeing. Studies show that mindfulness can help with a myriad of things, including stress and anxiety*. At its most basic concept, mindfulness is the quality of being conscious or aware. It is associated heavily with quiet, breathing techniques and meditation; therefore, silent meetings can undoubtedly be associated with mindfulness.
Junior School pupils also benefit from Mindfulness and Meditation. This term we launched a lunchtime Meditation Club, allowing girls the time to relax and take time out to release worries and help to cultivate a sense of peace. The theme of the club this week was ‘Agree to Disagree’. The half hour session began with a sensitive discussion on how to listen to other people’s opinions and to value that that they may not always be the same as yours but does not mean you are not friends. The girls then laid in a comfy position and focussed on their breathing in a 20 minute meditation session. When asked how they felt at the end of the session ‘calm’, ‘relaxed’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘tired!’ were some of the answers.
Cindy Magyar, the School Nurse, is herself an avid supporter of the Mindfulness and the positive effects it has on mental health. “Meditation and mindfulness is becoming widely acknowledged and scientifically validated as a powerful tool in supporting mental health*” she states. Nurse Cindy teaches Health & Well-being within the PSHE curriculum and incorporates Mindfulness and meditation into these sessions.
At the core of our education we endeavour to teach our young learners with character traits that will help them become more resilient in the world. Traits such as: perseverance and grit, confidence and optimism, drive and ambition, community spirit and tolerance. These characteristics closely resemble those that studies suggest mindfulness can help deliver.