World Mental Health Day – OAT academies taking steps to improve wellbeing

  10 October, 2019

With anxiety and depression in children rising by 48% since 2004, there is increasing awareness of the need to take action to address mental health issues.

In 2018, Ormiston Academies Trust secured £2 million of funding from the #iwill fund and national charity Ormiston Trust to run social action projects across OAT’s network of schools. Since then, students have been taking steps to improve the wellbeing of themselves, their peers and their local communities.

Ormiston Endeavour Academy in Ipswich won the prestigious Diana Award this year for their student-led project Enclude. Thirty students from across the school took charge of promoting diversity and inclusion, from organising drop-in sessions for LGBT+ students to talk openly in a safe environment, to setting up workshops to promote acceptance. After a strong start to their project, the students went on to successfully organise and promote Suffolk’s 2019 Pride event, spreading their positive message amongst the local community. The charity Rethink Mental Illness states that members of the LGBT+ community are one and a half times more likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to the rest of the population. Ormiston Endeavour Academy is leading the way in tackling these issues and students are now planning for a bigger and better 2020 Pride parade.

The charity Mind has recently discussed how spending time in green spaces or bringing nature into everyday life can benefit both mental health and physical wellbeing. In Stoke-on-Trent, #iwill students at Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy have ‘green fingers’ for just this reason. Launching a Health Hub and a garden terrace, they have opened out spaces for fellow students to feel safe, talk about sensitive subjects and lower stress levels through painting and gardening. Students have found nurturing something to life has helped them to reduce stress and improve their self-esteem. It is now harvesting season for their garden, with all proceeds being donated to local food banks. With a sense of accomplishment, the students are proudly spreading mindfulness across their community.

“Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while.”

Mental Health Foundation

A Wellbeing Suite at Suffolk school Ormiston Sudbury Academy (OSA) allows students to talk openly and honestly about any issue they may be facing within a safe and secure environment. It has been a brilliant success over the past year.

Ormiston Sudbury Academy’s Wellbeing Suite

One parent from Ormiston Sudbury Academy said: “My daughter suffers from extreme anxiety which can at times be overwhelming for her. The Wellbeing Suite offers her a calm, quieter environment where she feels safe and can talk things through either with staff or with other students who are going through the same or similar experiences.”

Low self-esteem and mental health issues can be a detriment to students’ studies, attendance and concentration levels. However, with an increase in attendance at OSA, the students are now benefitting from the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

An estimated 20% of students will have had one depressive episode before the age of 18, a figure which may come as a shock to many. However, amidst awareness of nationwide charities, television campaigns and continuing community support, OAT is confident the hard work of its students means it is playing a part in supporting the mental health of children across the country.

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