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Kilgraston supports World Mental Health Day

Kilgraston supports World Mental Health Day

Kilgraston is an avid supporter of Mental Health and the annual World Mental Health Day. Each year the School appoints mental health ambassadors across Lower and Upper Sixth Form and this year's are pictured here.

Mental Health - Kilgraston's ambassadors

Mental Health was also the topic of a recent assembly by Kilgraston school nurse, Laura Rentoul. You can read this below:


In the words of the former first lady of America, Michelle Obama “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages”.

2020 has been a year of great challenges for us all in many ways. School lives have been interrupted in a way that many would never have imagined. Suddenly being able to study and interact with your peers on a day to day basis was halted by the need to stay at home to keep the population safe. This was not easy for some people. Some people enjoyed it, others may have struggled coming out of the new routine they had established at home. Whatever your experience the person next to you probably had a different one but what you all have in common is the need to look after each other to overcome adversity.

Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.

Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem.

Everyone is different. You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time.

Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.

Here at Kilgraston we recognised the need to look after our school communities mental health even before COVID 19 hit. From late last year Mrs Muller and I started the initial phases of integrating a mental health ambassador programme within the school. Having visited and spoken to other schools where the programme had been a great success we started the process of introducing it into Kilgraston. Pupils that were going to be in the sixth form cohort 2020/2021 were asked to submit a statement expressing their understanding of mental health and why they wanted to be involved. From these applications we identified 11 mental health ambassadors or MHAs. They went through a training process and now stand in front of you eagerly wanting to be here for you.

The project was developed by a team of experienced mental health trainers to encourage young people to ask for help when they need it. It focuses on peers supporting their peers. The thought behind this is that people use their own experiences to help each other. There are different types of peer support, but they all aim to:
• bring together people with shared experiences to support each other
• provide a space where you feel accepted and understood
• treat everyone’s experiences as being equally important

How much support you give and receive can vary depending on what feels right for you at different times.
Lots of people find peer support improves their wellbeing and helps them cope with mental health problems. For example, it can:
• help you to open up about what you are feeling and experiencing
• introduce you to ideas and approaches that others have found helpful
• reassure you that you’re not alone in how you are feeling
• help you to connect with others and give you a sense of belonging
It encourages you to value your strengths, build your self-esteem and confidence and help you to feel more hopeful about the future.

The project was first successfully piloted and evaluated in the 2017/2018 academic year.

The role of your MHAs is to deliver an education programme on mental health to younger year groups and each session is reinforced with handouts for pupils to take home and share with their families. Our MHAs offer a non-judgemental listening ear for any pupils who are worried about their own or their friends’ mental health and they will be raising awareness and challenge stigma around the topic.

Our Mental Health Ambassadors will set a positive example, letting other pupils know that “It’s okay to not be okay” and “It’s okay to talk about mental health”.

Anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary and our MHA’s are here to help.

Sometimes we need someone to simply be there, not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just to let us feel supported and cared about and this is what we hope you will feel with the introduction of the MHAs within Kilgraston. And now all that is left is for me to do is let them introduce themselves and say a little more about their role.

You can watch some of our other assemblies including this one on the importance of manners.

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