Mental Health Awareness Week

Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

Wellbeing is at the heart of everything Bedales Prep, Dunhurst and Pre-prep, Dunannie do – so it isn’t surprising that on 9-15 May, pupils and staff joined thousands of others across the country to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Week.

An annual event hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year Mental Health Awareness Week focused on raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on mental health.

At Dunhurst, however, the theme of loneliness was flipped on its head at the start of the week when pupils came together in the Outdoor Work orchard to celebrate the school community. Speaking about the collective strength of the community, the whole school was connected when they each held onto a piece of blue yarn, which was later cut for everyone to keep a piece as a reminder of the connection they share.

On Wednesday, pupils explored loneliness – as well as the additional topic of equality – in a Pupil Voice Conference. In their discussions they considered loneliness and solitude and their experiences of both. Designed to empower children to find their voice and put forward their views, the conference was not a one-off for Mental Health Awareness Week; Pupil Voice Conferences are a termly occurrence at Dunhurst, and just one of the many ways in which the school supports pupils’ mental health and wellbeing all year round.

Throughout the week, pupils also had the opportunity to take part in activities that promoted positive wellbeing – from yoga, craft hygge and board games, to pebble painting and basketball with Head of Dunhurst Colin Baty.

Even the youngest members of the Bedales community were involved as children at Dunannie focused on one of the school’s values, ‘Be Aware’. Awareness has been at the forefront of their learning this term as they’ve explored awareness of their emotions, personal space – others, as well as their own – and the environment.

Marking Mental Health Awareness Week is far from a tick-box exercise for Dunhurst and Dunannie – at both schools, pupils’ wellbeing underpins all that they do. The approach, which includes an emphasis on relationships, a comprehensive Wellbeing programme and encouraging pupils to spend as much time as possible outdoors, enables children to develop self-confidence, resilience, passion, empathy and teamwork. Read a blog about Dunhurst’s approach to mental health and wellbeing here.

Head of Dunhurst Colin Baty said: “Although pastoral care is always a priority at Dunhurst, it was wonderful to come together as a community to celebrate Mental Health Week and reaffirm all we do to support our pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. After connecting in the Outdoor Work orchard at the start of the week, it was heart-warming to see pupils asking each other to tie their piece of yarn to their wrist – a magical moment that reminds us of the special spirit Dunhurstians have.”

Mental Health Awareness Week