Today is World Mental Health Day! Set by the World Foundation of Mental Health, this year’s theme is ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’,  with the aim of raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change for everyone.

Robert Gordon’s is a school which is committed to providing a safe, secure and supportive environment where initiatives like World Mental Health Day strengthens the messaging shared across the community. 

Miss Jamieson, Principal Teacher, Junior School, shared: “In the Junior School we routinely and regularly discuss the importance of good mental health. All our teaching and support staff have been trained in the Confident Staff, Confident Children Building Resilience programme. This in turn has enabled the Junior School to deliver lessons and assemblies on resilience strategies, as part of our Health and wellbeing curriculum. With the aid of Skipper, the main character, the pupils have learnt how to steady their boat during choppy waters within their life. Currently the resilience strategy that the Junior School is looking at is being kind to others and being kind to ourselves. 

“We also spend time during Children’s Mental Health week in February discussing Mental Health along with Internet Safety Week, where we make the links between Mental Health and Social Media. Our unique individual Pupil Conferencing sessions also enable class teachers to discuss with their pupils on an individual basis how they are feeling emotionally.”

Mrs Willetts, Head of Guidance, Senior School, commented: “Transition between the junior and senior phases of school is often a time when pupils experience heightened anxiety as they move through a period of change. Our 3-18 provision supports this transition as Senior Specialists teach in the Junior School and our Primary 7 pupils attend Science, Computing, Drama and Art in our Senior School. Simple familiarisation with the buildings and friendly familiar faces in lessons makes a world of difference. 

“When our pupils begin S1 they spend a period of time off timetable carrying out a series of tasks to increase their confidence and building those important early friendships. Most recently all of S1 have spent two residential days up at Badaguish Outdoor Centre, improving their teamwork skills, resilience and making lasting relationships. The Guidance team works closely with our dedicated S1 Head of Year Mrs Stacey Hardie and the Nursing Team to support our young people through this important phase of their schooling. Their PSE lessons focus on respect, kindness and becoming part of the RGC community. This is further complemented with our full and active co curricular program which provides many opportunities to try new activities. Many of these support our mental health through exercise and time spent outdoors as well as clubs which encourage mindfulness and time out such as “Wednesday Wind Down”.”

Mrs McEwan, Head of Guidance, Senior School, added: “PSE and pastoral support in the senior years is centred around preparing for change, independence and positive pathways beyond school. Being a teenager in the 21st century is tough for a multitude of reasons but there is more acceptance and understanding, especially around anxiety and depression. In PSE pupils build on their understanding of the teenage brain and the psychology of emotions. Dr Seigel’s work on emotions has particularly resonated with our pupils. ‘Name it to tame it’ is a valuable mantra because putting our feelings into words can reduce the impact of unpleasant thoughts. The Guidance team has a wealth of experience supporting pupils and created a space for all of our young people to be vulnerable and open about mental health challenges.”

Nurse Tor highlighted: “It's important to give ourselves headspace. For some people it's a blustery beach walk, a board game, puzzle or a chat with a friend or relative. The activities or resources that give us that time to reflect and straighten out our thoughts should be prioritised in our daily routines. By creating headspace and making this part of our daily lives we can become at ease. During the school day if pupils feel overwhelmed in any way they can attend the Wellbeing Centre in the East Wing of the Auld Hoose. This is a welcoming calm space where pupils have the opportunity to speak to a registered nurse or simply have some quiet time.”

At Robert Gordon’s, our highly developed House system allows pupils to have fun together in less formal settings where the House staff are a key part of the wider pastoral system. 

Strong pastoral care is ingrained in the Junior School informally via Class Teachers and formally via the Health and Wellbeing programme which is delivered throughout the year. Each Year group has a Classroom Assistant and Playground Supervisor to further enhance support for girls and boys helping them to be happy and confident children. 

When children progress to the Senior School they have daily contact with their Form Teachers in addition to the Heads of Guidance comprehensive Personal and Social Education programme. In the Wellbeing Centre, our School Nurses work alongside the School Counsellor who in turn work closely with the Guidance Team.

No matter where you are, there is always someone available to help!

Useful links:

Blog: Fridtjof Nansen’s Legacy: Shaping World Mental Health Perspectives Today by Miss Colquhoun

Recognising the importance of mental health