All being well…

All being well…

All being well…

The importance of maintaining good physical health is something we all understand. We may not always choose to follow the lifestyle rules but certainly most of us know what we ‘should’ be doing.

When it comes to mental health, however, we tend to wait for symptoms or warning signs to arise before considering the health of our minds. Sadly, there is still a significant stigma attached to discussing these problems, despite the fact that statistics tell us one in four people in the UK will experience mental illness each year and that more than half start by the age of 14 – and 75% by the age of 18. That is why it is increasingly important for schools and parents to work together to promote wellbeing amongst young people.

Croydon High School, in Selsdon, places great importance on this; focusing on the heathy development of the whole child – mind, body and soul, from their first days in Nursery right up to A Levels and beyond. Headmistress, Emma Pattison says, “For us, this is as important as any academic achievement. Our aim is to provide an environment where each individual is enabled to reach their individual goals or dreams and wellbeing is integral to this ambition.”

Healthy body, healthy mind, is the old adage and it is certainly true that physical activity is fundamental to this. The decrease in organised sports in many schools has been linked to increased childhood obesity and associated issues including low self-esteem. Sport for all, and particular emphasis on women in sport as strong role models, is something Croydon High fully promotes. As an all through, all-girl’s school, the challenge is to offer a wide range of sporting opportunities. A fully equipped sports centre on site helps and all girls, including sixth formers, are timetabled to participate sport every week.

When it comes to the mind, timetabled PSHE (Personal Social, Health and Economic education) lessons are perfect platforms to communicate clear information about issues that young people may find confusing or troubling in a safe, informed environment. Like Croydon High, many schools employ counsellors and Croydon High also offers a drop in service with School Nurse Jane Bloxsome, who is available to discuss any issues. She explains “I actively encourage girls to speak to their Head of Year or Tutor and to share concerns with their parents. We assure confidentiality within school, unless of course it is a safeguarding issue. We are extremely proactive in setting up support systems that allow us to intervene early, before problems escalate requiring outside intervention.”

Stress levels rise in all schools around exam times, so it is important to help pupils proactively manage their anxieties, ensuring they are eating and sleeping well, as well as creating a manageable revision timetable.

Giving young people opportunities to discover their voices, find things they are passionate about and experience success is paramount in developing a sense of wellbeing. At Croydon High, girls are all encouraged to become the best version of themselves. Head of Juniors, Sophie Bradshaw explains, “There is no ideal they need to model themselves on, no set formula for their interests and passions; just an expectation that they approach learning with curiosity and commitment.” Research indicates that girls, particularly, thrive in an environment where they are supported, encouraged and given confidence to make good decisions.

The school bench, situated directly outside the staff room, is the place where girls can come to ask for help, advice or just to have a chat. Every break and lunch time, girls will gather knowing that there will always be a sympathetic ear or a handy hint to help them with homework issues or indeed anything that is worrying them.

It sounds like a small thing, but it is invariably quoted by current and former pupils as something to rely on, giving them a sense of security throughout their school days. And as far as wellbeing goes, that’s a pretty good place to start.

Supplied by Croydon High School.

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