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Mental health a priority for Yorkshire school

Boothroyd Primary Academy has introduced a program of wellbeing activities

Posted by Alex Diggins | July 12, 2018 | School life

Boothroyd Primary Academy, a Yorkshire school, is combatting anxiety and stress with initiatives designed to avert common mental health problems and provide coping mechanisms for staff, parents and pupils. Activities include: stress buster workshops to highlight relaxation techniques and mindfulness methods ahead of SATS examinations; as well as investments in a farmyard with live animals and a play therapy and sensory rooms to provide pupils with a safe haven. Children across the school also have daily relaxation and mindfulness sessions.

Boothroyd - an academy within Focus-Trust, a charitable multi-academy trust based in the North West of England - has also prioritised staff and parent wellbeing with a host of activities including a relaxation room, free yoga and fitness sessions, and ‘happiness’ workshops for staff, alongside a wellbeing fayre for parents which introduced mindfulness techniques and links to local support groups.

Helen Rowland, Chief Executive at Focus-Trust, said: “Our work is underpinned by a set of values in all fifteen of our primary academies which place importance on caring, sharing, being fair and daring to do things differently. This is why we place huge emphasis on mental health and wellbeing; we understand that mental health is just as important as physical health, and is crucial to building our staff, parents and pupils’ individual resilience so that they can achieve their goals.”

The initiative comes after a survey conducted by the National Educational Union revealed that testing and exams, as well as family issues and pressures to perform well in class, are having an impact on mental health issues among students. It found that many school workers are seeing pupils exhibiting signs of mental health problems, such as anxiety, lack of motivation and even self-harm or suicidal feelings.

With the number of referrals for pupils seeking mental health treatment across the UK rising by a third in the past three years, increasing awareness around mental health was high on the agenda for Boothroyd.

“Looking after the mental health of staff and pupils is as important as their physical health,” said Kyrstie Joslin. “Our whole school focus on mental health has raised awareness and taught our staff and students vital skills in resilience and critical thinking.”

 

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