Welcome to St Bede’s Wellbeing Page. This page offers guidance and support to help all members of our school community look after their mental health and well-being.
Five Ways to Wellbeing
Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life. (click to open):
What is Mental Health?
‘Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ (World Health Organization)
What is Mental and Emotional Wellbeing?
Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of Public Health and a Wellbeing expert, says:
Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do, and so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.
Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. “But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.
It can help to think about ‘being well‘ as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out. No-one can give wellbeing to you. It’s you who has to take action,” says Professor Stewart-Brown.
St Bede’s Commitment
At our school, we aim to promote positive mental health and wellbeing for every member of our staff and student body. We pursue this aim using both universal, whole school approaches, and specialised, targeted approaches aimed at vulnerable students. In addition to promoting positive mental health, we aim to recognise and respond to mental ill-health. In an average classroom, three children will be suffering from a diagnosable mental health issue. By developing and implementing practical, relevant and effective mental health policies and procedures, we can promote a safe and stable environment for students affected both directly and indirectly by mental ill-health.
Our Shared Values
Our Shared Values underpin everything that we do. St Bede’s is a community where we want everyone to feel supported, safe and happy.
Mental health education within school is intended to develop students’ understanding of mental health and emotional wellbeing, and provide them with the tools to self-care.
To deliver the aims of our Mental Health Policy we promote mental wellbeing and raise awareness of mental health issues using poster campaigns, displays, invite guest speakers hold awareness raising days/ events delivered in partnership with staff and students. We teach students about common mental health and wellbeing issues through PSHE and assemblies, hold workshops for staff, parents and carers. We also share information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
As a Catholic school, St Bede’s is committed to the spiritual and mental wellbeing of all of our students. Our students discover their greatest potential is not reflected simply by high test scores, but by realising their God-given gifts, the desire to learn, and service to others. We nurture this potential with reverence, encouragement, and discipline. We are called to this great responsibility. We teach them through the Catholic faith that all they do in life is greater with love. In our care, they are supported throughout their school life by our dedicated School Chaplain, Liz Boylan.
Kooth have asked us to remind students that they offer free support, advice and counselling to those aged 11-18. Check out their website for further details.
County Durham has been selected as a Time to Change hub to help change the way people think and act about mental health. Click here for a list of support networks in County Durham.
School Based Support
For most students, their primary source of support will be their form tutor. In addition, any concerns about a students’ wellbeing should be referred to their head of house or head of sixth form. We have an excellent SEND department and pastoral team, where students can speak to staff about concerns connected to wellbeing.
Safeguarding issues must be passed directly to the designated safeguarding officer. Students in need of specific and continuous academic or emotional support may receive guidance from their tutor or one of the support staff responsible for emotional help.
In addition, pastoral staff may suggest a referral to the following sources of support, available in school:
- School Counsellor
- Behaviour Intervention Team
- School Nurse
- Educational Psychologist
- Mental Health First Aiders
- Team Around the School
- Resilience Nurse
*For further information about the School Nursing Service please click here
School Counselling Service
We are lucky enough to have several counsellors working in school, if you are referred you will be introduced to your counsellor who will explain exactly what to expect but please see below for basic details of our school counselling service. One of our counsellors, Elaine Thompson, introduces herself below:
Hi my name is Elaine Thompson. I am a qualified and accredited counsellor and a mental health practitioner. I have worked with children, young people and adults for over 30 years across education, health and social care settings. I am committed to delivering the best possible care and support to the students and families of St Bede’s.
Counselling is a talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a safe confidential environment without judgement. I truly believe that counselling can help students overcome problems, bring about effective change and enhance well-being.
I am a Humanist counsellor and my approached is aimed at helping to develop a greater sense of self-belief and self-worth. I do this by offering an opportunity to explore creativity, personal growth and self-development, as well as acknowledging a variety of choices. This encourages increased self- awareness and self-realisation, empowering students to go on and reach their full potential.
All parents/carers have the responsibility of helping their child/children to grow and develop. Young people may need help with their problems and worries. Sometimes, no matter how well they get on with their parents, they may find it hard to talk to them.
Young people often get help and support by talking to someone they trust, such as friends, teachers, a relative or neighbour. Sometimes having a problem or a worry can affect behaviour and progress/achievement in school. A School Counsellor can help.
What Does Counselling Mean?
Counselling is a chance for you to talk about something that is affecting the way you feel. Some of the issues that you may see a counsellor for include: worries at home, in school or with friends; stress; bullying; family problems; relationship difficulties; low self-esteem/ confidence; bereavement; self-harm; sexuality; anger / aggression; self-harm, eating difficulties, substance abuse; alcohol/drugs, anger etc.
Counselling can give you a regular and confidential space to talk about the worries or problems you are experiencing.
How Can Counselling Help?
Sometimes talking to our friends or family is not enough. Talking to a counsellor who is trained to listen and who is outside your situation can give you support in a safe place as well as the time and space for you to talk about difficult things. Working with a trained counsellor can help you make sense of what is happening in your life, sort out what you feel or work out what’s important. Counselling can also help you find your strengths and build on them so that you can make better choices for yourself.
Exploring problems and difficulties in a confidential setting, with regular appointments over a period of time can often help to gain new and different viewpoints. This can lead to changes in how you feel about yourself, your relationships with others, how you think and how you behave.
Why Counselling at School?
At St Bede’s, we understand some of the pressures that young people have. Counselling can help students to build resilience which they can then use both in the school (in and out of lessons) and in their personal lives.
We offer counselling in school to our students so that this service is more accessible. We can therefore be more proactive in helping students to look after their health and wellbeing.
What Will Happen When I See a Counsellor?
If you are studying in Years 7-11 and referred to counselling, your Head Of House will have spoken to your parent or carer to ask their permission. You may first wish to meet the counsellor with an adult to make sure you feel comfortable talking to them. If you decide to continue, the number of sessions depends on the issues being discussed, sometimes 2-4 sessions are enough, however you would be offered up to 10 sessions of one-to-one counselling. Each one would normally last approx 50 mins.
You can expect to be helped by a supportive and non-judgmental counsellor in school. What you talk to the counsellor about is private; however, there may be times when we may need to share serious worries or concerns with others who need to know. Your counsellor will always tell you if they need to break confidentiality in order to keep you safe. The Counsellor is part of the school staff and understands the school, working with teachers and pastoral staff to help you.
How the counselling actually happens depends on your age and needs. Younger students may like to use some of the therapeutic toys and materials to help express their feelings; older students may find that artwork is helpful, and some people simply prefer to talk. In this way, we try to help you to explore difficult feelings, to understand them and to find a way towards feeling better.
How can a parent/Carer support the counselling?
It will help your child if you accept counselling as a normal and useful activity and show an interest if they want to talk to you about it. If your child would prefer not to talk about it, that is their choice and they shouldn’t be pushed too much to talk.
Is counselling voluntary?
Counselling is completely voluntary. No counselling is ever compulsory.
How do I find out more about Counselling?
Speak to your Head of House or tutor for additional information regarding the School Counselling Service.
Practising Self-Care: Top Tips
There are a number of things you can do to help ensure that your time in school is happy and healthy:
- Exercise – Join a gym, go for a walk, run, surf, climb, dance, box, join an aerobics class, row, sail, do some yoga, play football, cycle, swim, fence, play a game of rugby…Whatever you do, and whatever you enjoy, make sure that you stay active. Find an activity you love – it doesn’t have to feel like hard work to be good for you! Being physically active has been consistently shown to improve mood, as well as hoping you to maintain good physical health.
- Eat Well – What we eat can also have a direct impact on our mental and physical health. Eating too much, eating too little, or eating the wrong things can affect our mood and how we feel about ourselves. Occasional treats are fine, but try to avoid regularly consuming food and drink that is high in fat and sugar, such as crisps, sweets and energy drinks. Ready-meals or energy drinks can seem particularly appealing when you have limited time, or if you’re feeling tired or stressed, so try to look after yourself in other ways too. Aim for
regular meals and a balanced diet that includes lots of fruit and vegetables, and try to drink water instead of sugary drinks. Avoid extreme or ‘faddy’ diets – they’re usually unsustainable and not good for your mental or physical health. Think of yourself like an expensive sports car; if you want the best performance, only the premium fuel will do!
- Get plenty of sleep – On average, teenagers need 8 – 10 hours of sleep per night (Source: sleepfoundation.org). During the time we are asleep, our bodies are able to replenish energy stores and make repairs, while our minds organise and store the memories of the day before. Getting enough sleep is therefore essential for good health and effective learning. Tiredness also makes it difficult to engage with new concepts, and can affect our mood. Don’t be tempted to skimp on sleep in order to fit more into your day – even if it’s to do
extra school work. In the long-term this may actually be detrimental to your learning.
- Socialise – Spend time with people. Take time to chat with friends and family – not only will they appreciate it, but it’s good for you too.
- Be creative – Give your brain a break by putting your worries to one side and immersing yourself in something creative. You don’t need to be an artist to make things. You could paint, draw, write, sew, knit, crochet, make slime, braid a friendship bracelet, make pottery, bake a cake, build a website… There are so many possibilities. Research has shown that engaging in creative tasks can have a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing. Why not get together with a group of friends to do something crafty?
- Relax – Yes, you want to do well at A Level. However, that doesn’t mean spending every waking hour working. Relaxation is important too – it’s all about balance. To work effectively you need to be in the right frame of mind. Take time out to have a long soak in bath, listen to music or watch your favourite Netflix series. It’s OK to take a break sometimes. You might also want to explore ways of consciously relaxing, using techniques such as mindfulness. There are a number of good apps you can download on your phone which will take you through guided meditations. For example, ‘Calm’, ‘Headspace’ and ‘Simple Habit’.
- Be kind – Be a listening ear and a caring voice for those around you, see the best in people and accept differences when you encounter them. Please use social media responsibly – don’t forget that as soon as you have sent a message or posted something online it is out of your control and anyone could read it.
- Revise well – When it comes to revision, DON’T leave it to the last minute. Make the most of any ‘free’ periods or extra study time. The time you invest consolidating your work during those frees – whether or not you have set homework to do – will pay off in your results. Research suggests that the most effective learning takes place over a prolonged period of time. Every time you go back over material you have learned, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain, embedding the memory, and making it easier to recall the material when necessary. Cramming can work in the short term, but it’s a risky strategy – you are much more likely to forget the material when you most need it, and you almost certainly won’t remember it in the long-term. During exam periods, try to use a variety of revision methods so you don’t get bored. Don’t just copy your notes – practice exam-style questions, work with a friend, create diagrams and mind maps, make up a song, poem or acronym, and create key word flashcards to test yourself. Ensure you take regular 10 minute breaks approximately every 50-90 minutes. It might sound obvious, but start your revision with the topics that scare you the most. It can be tempting to work on the areas you enjoy and feel most comfortable with, rather than the areas that need the most attention.
- Work hard – Many students find that GCSEs and A Levels hard work. Even if you flew through your previous tests without a problem, you may find that doing well at GCSE and A Level is more of a challenge. Don’t be disheartened – this is perfectly normal! However, you will have to be prepared to work hard, and we expect you to do this independently. If your teacher sets you work to do outside of lesson time it is assumed that you will complete it in the time given, and to the best of your ability. That said, this needn’t be a chore; you have selected to study your subjects, and hopefully you have picked things you enjoy and want to learn more about! If you have a particular subject, university course or career in mind it is worth sharing that with your teachers. They will be more than happy to offer you support and guidance to enable you to achieve your goals.
- Ask for help – Don’t struggle in silence. When we’re having a difficult time it can be easy to believe that we’re alone or that no-one will understand, but this isn’t the case. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness – it shows maturity and self-awareness. Don’t wait until things seem overwhelming or unmanageable; the sooner you ask, the easier the problem is to solve.
- Kooth Online Counselling (free, safe and anonymous online support for young people)
- Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (supports the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families)
- MindEd (gives advice to parents/carers who are concerned about the mental health of their child, including general tips on parenting)
- Time to Change (resources to challenge mental health stigma)
- Young Minds (giving young people a voice in improving their mental health)
- Mental Health Foundation (publications on mental health)
- Anxiety UK (supports anxiety, panic attacks and phobias)
- SelfharmUK (dedicated to self-harm recover, insight and support)
- Mind (information about depression, its symptoms and possible causes, and how to access treatment and support)
- OCDUK (national OCD charity, run by and for people with lived experience of OCD
- Beat Eating Disorders (support with mental illnesses that involve disordered eating behaviour)
- Papyrus: Prevention of Young Suicide (helping give hope to a young person struggling with life)
- Humankind (County Durham drug and alcohol recovery service)
- Drinkaware (independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm)
- NHS Drug Addiction (where to get help for drug addiction)
- Healthy Eating for Teenagers (advice to maintain a healthy, balanced diet)