Mental Health Awareness Week – The Sooner the Better

Was it planned or is it just a coincidence that Mental Health Awareness Week coincides with SATs week?

The week beginning 14th May fills both pupils and teachers with trepidation.

So if the government insists on putting children through these periods of, for some, extreme anxiety, schools will have to take it upon themselves to manage those feelings and the subsequent behaviour and reactions of children as a result.

And the sooner the better.

When do we start to introduce children to their inner world? 

Indeed, do we?  Do you in your school? 

Where to start?

Even our youngest pupils can begin to learn the vocabulary of feelings and emotions and use it when talking about themselves.

We need to give children permission not only to talk about their feelings, but to actually have them – and let’s face it they are going to have them whether we give them permission or not.

Help Children to Access Their Inner World

But by giving permission, by recognising and acknowledging that these feelings are real, by not shutting them down with a quick “don’t be silly” or “there’s not need to worry”, we can begin to help children to access that inner world and to understand the part it plays in their lives.

Once we have helped children to identify their inner world of feelings and thoughts we are one step closer to them seeing the connection to and making sense of their behaviour.

And also to developing those skills of empathy because if I have feelings and thoughts then others are having them too.

These are complex but accessible ideas and a current research project into an emotional health resource which tackles this learning is producing remarkable results in schools in Birmingham.

Our Current Project

Whilst the final report on schools using ‘Ruby Rafa and Riz. Feel Think and Do’ is a few weeks away, schools have been recording some wonderful results and classroom experiences.

‘really helped them to understand their emotions and others’ emotions’

‘pupils with behaviour issues were engaging in whole class activities’

‘Year 2 discussions went on so much longer than we expected’

‘really enjoyed talking about others emotions and their own’

‘Yr 2 really looked forward to it – it’s so significantly different to anything else’

‘there is not another resource like it – written specifically for the purpose of exploring these issues’

‘Year 5 have become much more accepting of others’ opinions’

‘rather than teasing they are more careful of what they say’

‘there is less fighting outside the classroom’

‘if someone says something inappropriate they apologise to the whole class’

So if you want to start sooner rather than later, start with Ruby Rafa and Riz.  Feel Think and Do’