< Back to Blog

Head's Blog - Discussing young people's mental health

Paul Dwyer portrait-450_thFor all the progress that society has made in recent decades, we still have a long way to go when it comes to dealing with mental health. The fact that mental health concerns have increased as a result of the pandemic is not surprising; this predicament has brought isolation, illness and loss to us all. We were facing a looming mental health crisis before the world at large faced a calamity of its own – it’s hard to understand how we might now describe the challenges facing us.

Mental health is often at the centre of debate, with two sides pitted against one another. There are those who believe it is a tool being used to score points, while others fear that a focus on positive mental health is too easily ignored or belittled. It is a debate no one is above or excused from, as the events of recent weeks have demonstrated.

I believe that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with who is right or wrong in this ongoing discussion, but create a supportive environment where it is safe to speak out. Our young people should not need to fear that they will not be taken seriously if they raise concerns about their mental health or tell us they find it hard to articulate how they feel. At the same time, we need to help ensure that we do not create a culture of anxiety by talking of mental health only in negative terms.

What can be done?

Teachers and parents can be proactive in helping our students cope with the difficulties they face. Here are just a few ways how:

  1. Show vulnerability and keep the conversation open

While maintaining appropriate boundaries, being honest about our own mental health can show young people that there is no need to be invincible. When the adults around them show unwavering resilience, it might become difficult for students to come forward or to admit a perceived weakness. Simply letting young people know it is OK not to be OK can be a powerful way of opening up conversation and ensuring they know there are people around that they can talk to, and who understand. 

  1. Plan for post-pandemic life

In a rush to get back to ‘normal’ – weekends filled with visits to shopping centres and restaurants, we may forget the oft-cited silver lining of the last 12 months – more time to spend with family. We should seek out ways to protect these special connections, as the rush to ‘catch-up’ in coming months, might feel overwhelming without this positive tether back to those closest to us.

  1. Contending with screen time

While we’re all sick of screens and the hours we are tied to them at the moment, I think it is unlikely we will forgo them altogether as life returns to normal. While we should certainly recognise the benefit technology can bring, we must be honest about the downsides, and why limiting time online is sensible. Thinking about my own phone use in recent months, there is also a need for us to reflect on what we practice and what we ask of our students. Having planned time where all family members put their phones and tablets away, might be something we are more thoughtful about in the months ahead.

  1. Being Deliberate about Habits

It has been a joy to see new habits and hobbies taken up during lockdown. As life becomes busier, some may find a permanent place in our lives, while others may fall by the wayside. Whether regular exercise, reading, baking or learning a new skill, considering which to focus on and which to gently let go means we can retain new skills and avoid the guilt and stress that comes from trying to take on too much. It’s also important to remember that simply getting through the isolation and added stress of multiple lockdowns is something to be proud of – there is no need to feel inadequate if new skills or hobbies did not make it onto your priority list amidst the uncertainty of the last year.

  1. Considering purpose

The headlines are filled with worry about the impact of falling behind in education, and the economic shocks that may lie ahead for this generation. We must involve young people in conversations surrounding what is most in need of ‘catching up’ and why, and not forget the importance of social interaction and engagement in life beyond the school walls. Let us help them feel a positive sense of purpose as they consider the years ahead.

If the mental health crisis we faced before coronavirus partly stemmed from the increasing expectations to achieve, creating a sense of panic around a need to catch up cannot end well. Young people have missed out on so much already; a fear of the consequences if they don’t race to do more now will only lead to greater loss.

There’s much talk of not returning to what we knew as normal, and instead creating a better post-pandemic society. Our students, this younger generation, is central to this. It is our duty to ensure that all students are prepared to step out into the wider world and properly involved in the conversations about the future they will shape. 

 

In Paul Dwyer’s last blog, he reflected on the purpose of education and how best to help young people realise their ambitions.

To find out more about what we offer  Book a visit

  Date Posted: 19 March 2021
Senior The World Beyond
Date Posted: 19 March, 2021

Articles for: The World Beyond

Head's Blog - What should we tell our children?

Head's Blog - What should we tell our children?

Date Posted: 3 March, 2022
There are many times when a teacher or parent might find themselves lost for words. Being posed a challenging question...
READ MORE
Head's Blog - Children's Mental Health

Head's Blog - Children's Mental Health

Date Posted: 8 February, 2023
By Paul Dwyer, Head
READ MORE
Head's Blog - Paul Dwyer | Redmaids' High School

Head's Blog - Paul Dwyer | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 12 October, 2020
READ MORE
Head's Blog - What makes a school?

Head's Blog - What makes a school?

Date Posted: 4 February, 2022
READ MORE
Head’s blog – re-evaluating the purpose of education | Redmaids' High School

Head’s blog – re-evaluating the purpose of education | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 12 February, 2021
READ MORE
Head's Blog: Positivity in politics isn’t over; our children are proof of this

Head's Blog: Positivity in politics isn’t over; our children are proof of this

Date Posted: 8 January, 2021
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: Getting through this together | Redmaids' High School

Headteacher's blog: Getting through this together | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 22 January, 2021
READ MORE
Head's Blog - Leadership

Head's Blog - Leadership

Date Posted: 28 April, 2023
By Paul Dwyer, Head
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: Don’t forget to have fun!  | Redmaids' High School

Headteacher's blog: Don’t forget to have fun!  | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 20 October, 2020
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: A Vous La France!

Headteacher's blog: A Vous La France!

Date Posted: 16 October, 2023
READ MORE
Headteacher's Blog: Why we love iPads - 10 years of Digital Learning at Redmaids' High Junior School

Headteacher's Blog: Why we love iPads - 10 years of Digital Learning at Redmaids' High Junior School

Date Posted: 6 March, 2023
Ten years ago, we took a great leap of faith, as one of the first schools in Bristol to begin using iPads in the...
READ MORE
Head's Blog Student Takeover - IWD2023

Head's Blog Student Takeover - IWD2023

Date Posted: 8 March, 2023
Written by twins Shauna and Naina in Year 7, taking over Mr Dwyer's 'Head's Blog' for International Women's Day....
READ MORE
Head's Blog - Reflecting on a year of lockdown | Redmaids' High School

Head's Blog - Reflecting on a year of lockdown | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 23 March, 2021
On this day of reflection, a year since we first went into lockdown, I have been thinking about what that journey has...
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: Why it all starts here in Year 3

Headteacher's blog: Why it all starts here in Year 3

Date Posted: 4 January, 2024
READ MORE
Head’s Blog: A Modern Approach to Scholarships

Head’s Blog: A Modern Approach to Scholarships

Date Posted: 2 November, 2021
By Paul Dwyer, Head The impact of COVID-19 has prompted many schools to reflect on how we best serve our current and...
READ MORE
Head's Blog: Why choose a single sex school?

Head's Blog: Why choose a single sex school?

Date Posted: 11 June, 2021
READ MORE
Breaktime with Mrs Hinks

Breaktime with Mrs Hinks

Date Posted: 9 August, 2022
As the Head of PHSE, Assistant Head of Year 8 this past year and one of our Modern Languages teachers, Mrs Hinks is...
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: Embracing technology in the junior school | Redmaids' High School

Headteacher's blog: Embracing technology in the junior school | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 26 February, 2020
READ MORE
Headteacher's blog: Why enjoyment in reading helps children to thrive | Redmaids' High School

Headteacher's blog: Why enjoyment in reading helps children to thrive | Redmaids' High School

Date Posted: 28 November, 2019
Everything today is available 24/7; from information at our fingertips, to online shopping and takeaway delivery. In a...
READ MORE
Junior School Headteacher Mrs Brown explains why girls here positively thrive.

Junior School Headteacher Mrs Brown explains why girls here positively thrive.

Date Posted: 17 January, 2022
READ MORE
Click here to view all news articles