Insights丨Mental Health Awareness Week: ‘Finding Your Brave’

In this Educational Insights Series, experts from across the Wellington College group give advice, practical help and tips for parents who are keen to give further support for their children’s learning. In this article from the series, Samantha Wood from Wellington College Tianjin discusses about “Mental Health Awareness Week: ‘Finding Your Brave’”.

Pupil Welfare Guidance
Boarding Housemistress
Wellbeing Coordinator
Samantha Wood 

In December 2019, the Chinese National Health Commission and the Ministry of Education announced that by the end of 2022, all schools in China must offer a psychological service platform for students or ensure that school doctors provide mental health services. The plan to address the growing trend of mental health issues in China also includes the requirement for preschool education and special education institutions to employ mental health teachers.

It is reassuring to see the wellbeing of youngsters having such a high profile and this latest announcement shows a positive step in addressing the growing numbers of young people in China who are facing mental health issues. China, though, is not alone in experiencing what appears to be an alarming increase in psychological conditions among the young; with more teenagers now being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. So, while the move by governments around the world to provide an increase in mental health services is particularly welcome, we as a community must also do our part in supporting the mental health of the young people in our care.

For our Mental Health Awareness week in October I called upon everyone in the Wellington community to ‘break the silence’, and eradicate the taboo surrounding mental health; for all of us to take time to talk to each other about our emotional wellbeing as openly as we do about our physical health. During the week, as I eavesdropped on the conversations taking place during tutor time, it was heartening to hear both staff and pupils not just sharing their experiences of when life presents challenges, but also suggesting action that can be taken to overcome these difficulties. The graffiti wall in the Senior School was well used during the week with people of all ages sharing why they felt under pressure and suggesting how we can support one another by making ‘an effort to talk to someone and ask how they are feeling’, ‘laugh about things together’, or ‘give someone a hug’ – simple, yet effective strategies. We should make an effort not just to follow these recommendations for ourselves, but also encourage pupils to seek advice from the experts in school and talk to a trusted adult when they are feel they are unable to cope with events.

The opportunity to share with others how you are feeling is immensely beneficial and here at Wellington we strive to create an environment in which children feel safe to do just that. In their weekly wellbeing lessons in the Junior School, teachers have noted the value that this dedicated time has in offering the children an opportunity to ‘understand their feelings and find ways to solve their different problems.’ While we set aside specific weeks of the year to highlight the need for psychological support, these lessons are integrated into the wellbeing provision throughout the year. Additionally, the Pupil Support and Inclusion team also provide expertise in learning strategies, language acquisition, and emotional and wellbeing support for pupils and their families.

In February, we will have our second Mental Health Awareness week for this academic year, the theme of which is ‘Finding Your Brave’.

We all have different ideas of what constitutes being brave, but a common ground is having the ability to show mental and/or moral strength to face things that are frightening, overcome difficulties, and take appropriate risks so that we grow as individuals: ‘the secret to happiness is freedom…and the secret to freedom is courage’. So, whether we fear the dark, the monster under the bed, exams, or friendship difficulties, this dedicated week will offer the opportunity to share these concerns and learn strategies to overcome them. Pupils of all ages will be involved in different activities throughout the week; please take some time to ask them about the events.

All parents and friends of Wellington are warmly encouraged to join us on Wednesday 5th February, at 9.00 in the Common Room, when we will be joined by Mary Chan, a counsellor from Raffles Medical Group, who will offer advice on how to deal with mental health issues facing young people. She will focus on how both parents and youngsters can cope with the pressure to succeed in an academic setting. There will also be an opportunity for parents to take part in a Question and Answer session at 10.15 on the same day. If you would like to submit questions prior to the day please forward them to my email address

(samantha.wood@wellingtoncollege.cn ). Mary of course will also take questions on the day.

I look forward to welcoming you on Wednesday 5th February, as we work together to support the young people of Wellington.

 

Profile

Mary Chan

MA in Mental Health Counselling from Palo Alto University, USA

BA in Humanities from Asia International Open University, Macao.

Clinical Interest

  • Stress management
  • Marital and interpersonal conflicts
  • Addiction
  • Mood and anxiety disorders

Mary is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), member of Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, American Counselling Association, and Chi Sigma Iota, the counselling academic and professional honor society international.

Mary Chan has been an award-winning film and television producer in Asia.  The job allowed her to understand some of the basic needs of human being. Through developing and creating characters in movie scripts, she became interested in psychology which then aroused her passion as a helper in the mental health arena in China.