Promoting Mental Well-being at King’s
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, mental well-being, mindful attention – call it what you will – is a method of managing the daily pressures of life. It is about living in the present and learning to view the world with a positive mental attitude. While this is an innate action, the practice of mindfulness can be easily cultivated though techniques including meditation, yoga and exercise.
As a school we have been working hard to promote the benefits of mental well-being. Young adulthood is naturally a stressful period, and we are keen to promote ways that our school community can explore these issues and thus work towards living a happy and fulfilling life.
Having awareness of ourselves and the world around us can help to improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Anything that allows time to focus on thoughts and perhaps worries or concerns, in a positive manner, can be especially beneficial for children and young adults.
King’s believes strongly in promoting mental well-being both inside and outside the classroom. Our current PSHE curriculum is designed to allow our pupils the opportunity to discuss how they are developing personally and socially within a challenging and heavily technology-based world.
A team of dedicated teachers guide pupils through a variety of age-appropriate topics, helping them to develop their own core values, build strong relationships with others, and make informed decisions in a safe environment.
We also run sessions where pupils are advised about positive strategies of self-care to deal with stress/anxiety. This includes getting pupils to think about how they can relax and take time for themselves.
PSHE teacher, and mindfulness practitioner, Alistair Wood, offers pupils drop-in sessions on a Friday afternoon. These are informal meetings in which he may lead a simple meditation or teach the basics of Tai Chi. For those who are unable to make these sessions, he organises an alternative, which is suited to the needs of the individual. Alistair also offers one-to-one clinics in our boarding houses, as well as group sessions.
Mindfulness at Home
Practicing mental well-being is an important aspect of our boarding life. One of our girls’ houses, Carpenter, has its own Mindfulness Room. This is open to all pupils and provides a quiet space to relax, unwind and reflect on the day. Thanks to a recent donation from the Webster family, the room is now adorned with a tropical fish tank.
Carpenter Housemistress, Laura Jones said: "The idea for this room (which is open to all) came from of a group of girls who were keen to create a comfortable, quiet space for reflection and positive vibes. It has been funded by both Development and the boarding houses."
She added: "The room is also home to tropical fish tank and a school of exotic fish. These were kindly donated by King's parents, Mr and Mrs Webster, with the tank being expertly managed by their daughter, Caitlin."
Our boarding staff also offer ad hoc sessions which are run by both Alistair, and our School Chaplain, Father Mark. These have been especially helpful at peak times, such as during exam revision.
Our Medical Centre can also offer pupils some ‘time-out’, with access to resting beds. There is also a fully qualified counsellor available for appointments on a Monday and Wednesday afternoon.
As well as offering drop-in clinics for pupils, Alistair runs a Mindfulness for Stress course with staff who might benefit from learning more about meditation and mindfulness. This course is based on the Breathworks model – one of the largest providers of mindfulness training for stress or pain relief. It is used extensively by the NHS and major employers.
Commenting, Alistair said: “There are many studies to show now how effective mindfulness can be in making a real difference to people’s lives. This course helps with a large number of mental health issues, from depression to anxiety, and is now often prescribed as a real alternative for medication.
He added: “The course does utilise meditation techniques but also encompasses a lot of other approaches from mindful movement to a variety of coping strategies and viewpoints.”
As this week is Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re pleased to be highlighting what we are and have been doing as a school to help ensure the happiness and well-being of our pupils and staff.