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Student wellbeing ambassadors help devise school mental health strategy

11 January 2018

Students aged 8-13 from a girls’ grammar school worked with educational psychologists to develop a whole-school mental health strategy which was accessible, appealing and destigmatising.

This research is being presented by Dr Cathy Atkinson of the University of Manchester and Dr George Thomas of Bright Futures Educational Trust today, Thursday 11 January, at the British Psychological Society Division of Educational & Child Psychology annual conference in Brighton.

Dr Atkinson and Dr Thomas planned the sessions at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls using resources which they thought were visual and appealing, but the wellbeing ambassadors had strong views about their relevance to young people and proposed their own creative and innovative solutions.  One of their ideas was an accessible quiz to determine when and how to seek help.  The wellbeing ambassadors consulted with other students during form time and developed their own communications strategy.

Dr Atkinson said, ‘Although there is increasing interest in promoting mental health and wellbeing within education, to date, the voices of young people appear to have been almost completely overlooked in the development of school-based mental health practices.  This is despite increasing focus on young people’s participation; and the fact that young people are best positioned to understand the pressures of contemporary society.

Jenny Ogunmyiwa, Vice Principal at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls said, ‘We understand that recognising the signs associated with mental health problems, intervening to provide early support and signposting to other sources of help are crucial in promoting our students’ ongoing wellbeing. Our wellbeing ambassadors are working hard in school to ensure that student contributions are used to promote a greater understanding of mental health within the student body and to develop effective mental health support’.

You can follow the conference on Twitter at #decp2018.

 

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