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Wellbeing Matters

Everyday feelings - it's never too early to talk about mental health

Sometimes, when teaching children, it can be tempting to dumb things down or swerve difficult topics.  However, this can be a disservice to them.  As head of PSHEe, I believe it is important to empower pupils with knowledge before they actually need it - not too early, but just when they are ready.

Talking about mental health can start early.  Incremental, spiral conversations mean that each year we build on the ideas and thoughts.   So how do we teach about mental health?  Well, at Pilgrims', we start in the Pre-Prep with strong teaching about emotional literacy: to recognise a feeling, be able to give it a name, and start to think about how we respond to it.  As boys get older, discussions evolve and become more about how we keep our moods and feelings stable and how we cope with negative feelings.  Then we examine how we prevent everyday feelings becoming overwhelming.  Finally, in the last few years we might discuss the warning signs or poor mental health and common illnesses.

As we complete this week which follows World Mental Health Day, special focus has been on the difference between everyday feelings and overwhelming ones.  We've also looked at stigma and prejudice.  It's amazing, really, that society still struggles to come to terms with mental health as a parallel to physical health.
There can be some scary statistics about young people and poor mental health.  But, by being open and discussing mental health, we take good strides forward in helping the boys and young men of Pilgrims' live happy, successful and resilient lives.
Matt Shroff,
Director of Wellbeing

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