Poor mental health is a real problem in our local community. The recent SOJ Mental Health Review shows that mental illness is one of the main public health problems, highlighting depression and anxiety as being the most common.

The reality is that this directly affects our children and their future with stats showing 3 children in every classroom are diagnosed with a mental health disorder and further findings by the UK Institute of Education showing that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys show the signs of depression at age 14. This, together with the data showing that the number of sick days taken by local teachers has doubled in the last 2 years from stress, anxiety and depression clearly shows that that this is a critical time in the health and wellbeing of our young people and the professionals responsible for nurturing and supporting them. Its important as parents, as business leaders and members of our community that we begin to take action, for our children and their future.

We need to build resilience in schools.

Our work building resilience in schools started with an idea: what if as a community we could move beyond tackling stigma and raising awareness about poor mental health and take proactive action to give people the skills to increase their resilience and help them proactively manage their mental health?”

Those of you who know us well know that in September 2017 we started turning this idea into a reality. As a company we set our toughest challenge to date. We swapped the board room for the classroom and began working on a project in partnership with Haute Vallee secondary school.

The Resilient School project will run for 4 years and will give nearly 400 young people, their parents and their teachers, each year the opportunity to access practical resilience skills online and through workshops and assemblies.

However, it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for an inspirational Assistant Head teacher who shared our vision for building resilience in schools to better prepare our young people for the 21st Century workplace:

“The school environment promotes a fundamental opportunity to build resilience in young people and those who support them. Taking a whole school approach to building resilience means we can introduce a core set of skills to proactively manage mental health and reduce the social and emotional barriers to learning, together. There is so much power in introducing a common language in which our school community are better able to talk about their challenges and their emotions without feeling vulnerable.

So many young people today have low aspirations and opinions of their learning capacity and motivation and resilience is reaching chronic levels. With the increased pressure on students to perform well, poor mental health and negative attitudes and behaviours are increasing exponentially.”

Emma Ogilvie – Director

The project is already making a huge impact since the initial pilot programme was undertaken in 2016;

“I used to worry a lot and this would lead to me having time off school. I really don’t think I would have coped with the stress of GCSE’s without this programme” Says one Year 11 student “I was pleased with my performance as a Jersey Archer but after being on the programme I knew that instead of aiming to qualify for the Island Games, I believed I could make the GB Olympic Squad. I now train with the top archers from all over the world and I am being coached to be a future Olympian. Not only this, I taught my family some of the skills too!”

Year 11 Student

As the project unfolds, we’ll be sharing our experiences on the impact on the training via social media and would love to hear your views. We’d also like to thank the Jersey Evening Post for sharing our news: https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/11/07/school-introduces-programme-to-help-improve-mental-health/