Time to Talk – Start a discussion on mental health in your school

Time To Talk Day

Mental health and wellbeing are more present than ever in the news, with an increase in awareness of anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, and it’s the leading cause of workplace illness.

Thursday 2nd February 2023 is ‘National Time To Talk Day’. Run by leading mental health charities MIND and Rethink Mental Health, they’re striving to start the biggest conversation ever about mental health, bringing together communities of all ages from all walks of life to remove the stigma around mental health issues.

7% of children have attempted suicide by the age of 17 and almost one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year. Awareness of mental health issues for young people is vital in order to ensure student safeguarding.

Do you know your Youth Mental Health First Aid? Take the quiz.

Mental health in schools

Mental health affects the entire school community – not just young people, but staff too.

As a result, school communities need to work together to ensure the mental wellbeing of everyone within the school.

Resources that promote mental health in schools

For more information and best practice guidance for organisations and work environments, take a look at the range of free webinars from St Johns Ambulance – a leading provider of Mental Health First Aid.

The ‘Time to Talk’ website also provides great resources and presentations to start the conversation at school with young people, and Anna Freud also has some brilliant resources to support mentally healthy schools.

Removing barriers and creating brave spaces

We know there are many reasons as to why there are barriers to reporting, whether it’s issues surrounding online safety, harassment in or around schools, worries at home, academic pressure or just feeling unable to cope with their circumstances and a changing world.

Schools and colleges work with young people daily and therefore have an opportunity to listen and understand the unique experiences they have, in an authentic way. Schools can be a place for young people to be heard and understood, to be the institution that will listen, and to create a culture that seeks to prevent future harm through role modelling empathy, respect and understanding. Through providing varied and authentic channels for reporting, schools and colleges will succeed in both reducing barriers to reporting and creating a culture that prevents future harm.

Helping young people to communicate effectively through building a strong listening culture and encouraging student participation and feedback, as outlined in Professor Laura Lundy and Hub na nÓg’s ‘Lundy Model of Participation’, has great potential to promote mentally healthy schools.

Ultimately, providing brave spaces that empower young voices will enable society to develop safer communities and reduce barriers to reporting.

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